Dolorosa (ballet)

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Dolorosa is a modern dance solo choreographed by Martha Graham to music by Heitor Villa-Lobos. The work premiered on February 2, 1931, at New York's Craig Theatre. Dolorosa sometimes appeared in program notes with the subtitle from Primitive Cycle or from Primitive Cycle-Dance of Sorrow II.[1]

The ballet is one of a group of dances inspired by Graham's visits to New Mexico. Her fascination with Native American religious rituals was also explored in El Penitente, Incantation, and Primitive Mysteries.[2] Some sources suggest Dolorosa is based on the theme of the Mater Dolorosa, familiar subject matter for the choreographer.[3] Little else is known about the piece. Graham disliked revivals of her work, forbade notation of her dances[4] and thought they could not be successfully filmed.[5]


  1. ^ Dolorosa (Ballet choreographed by Martha Graham), Performing Arts Encyclopedia, Library of Congress
  2. ^ Martha Graham, Dance Obituaries, The Telegraph, April 3, 1991
  3. ^ Sara Nadal-Melsió, Dancing Icons or the Syncopation of the Unsayable, Graham's 'Lamentation' and the Cult of the Mater Dolorosa, Lectora, Volume 2, University of Barcelona, 1996, p. 88
  4. ^ Marcia B. Siegel, Are Graham's Gods Dead?, New York Magazine, June 24, 1968, p. 54
  5. ^ Joan Acocella, Martha Graham on Film, The Criterion Collection