TIME

1930s

1930

Martha Graham

The deity of modern dance

In 1930, choreographer Martha Graham debuted Lamentation, a wrenching solo piece in which a shrouded and self-bound figure twists and writhes, contracted into her pain and the search for its release. Created in contrast to male-dominated Russian and European schools—and the decorative roles they gave female dancers—Graham’s work laid the foundation for contemporary dance. Her technique uses the power of the pelvis, controlled breath and weighted movement to embody a ritualized way of inhabiting the feminine form. In reflecting visceral elements of universal human experience and collective memory, Graham asks us to move not just our bodies, but our souls.

Tomei is an Oscar-winning actor

1931

Maria Montessori

Rethinking the classroom

In thousands of classrooms around the world, as children work independently to solve math problems with beads and learn the alphabet with sandpaper letters, their activities can be traced back a century to Maria Montessori’s radical educational philosophy.

One of the first female physicians in Italy, Montessori developed early-childhood teaching methods that made the student a respected collaborator and independent thinker, rather than the submissive pupils of yore. In 1931, she trained teachers through her Association Montessori Internationale and hosted Mahatma Gandhi, who supported the use of her methods in India. Her

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