Martha Graham Dancer Performed for Google Doodle

PHOTO: Martha Graham, Letter to the World, 1940.Play© Barbara Morgan Archives
WATCH Martha Graham Dancer Inspires Google Doodle

If you want to witness some world-class contemporary dancing, go no farther than Google's homepage today.

To celebrate what would have been the 117th birthday of renowned dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, Google turned its homepage logo into a special dance-themed animation.

See Previously Unseen Photographs of Martha Graham

The interactive doodle shows a dancing figure spell out "Google" with five of Graham's signature movements. But the figure isn't just the figment of the illustrator's imagination. It's an animation inspired by the principal dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company.

When Google reached out to dance company officials to let them know about the search giant's interest in honoring Graham with a digital tribute, the dance company choreographed a special 15-second spot and sent its principal dancer to perform for the illustrator.

"It was really amazing," dance company artistic director Janet Eilber said.

Google Doodle Shows Iconic Graham Movements in 15 Seconds

Knowing that the image would be seen by about 100 million Google homepage visitors as they clicked their way to a search box, she said the doodle posed a tough challenge.

"How can I get the most iconic, recognizable Graham movements packed into 15 seconds?" she asked.

To showcase Graham's contributions to dance, which were introduced in the 1920s and 1930s, Eilber said she had to do more than simply feature isolated poses.

"It's the full-bodied transitions and gutsy movements that are really iconic about Graham," she said.

The Google doodle starts on the right side of the homepage and illustrates an "e" with a movement from Lamentation, a famed Graham solo from 1930. It then transitions through several other notable Graham concepts and ends with another solo move performed by Graham in 1935. (The website of the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance details the dances featured on the Google doodle.)

Eilber said the whole experience was "serendipitous" because the dance company was already scheduled to perform near the illustrator's home in Provo, Utah, when Google called about the doodle proposal.

Dancer: It's Moving That the World Is Celebrating a Dancer

So after the group's performance, she and Blakeley White-McGuire, the dance company's principal dancer, met with Ryan Woodward, the illustrator chosen by Google. White-McGuire performed the brief dance while Woodward videotaped and photographed it. He later created his illustration from her performance.

"It's inspiring because Google is honoring a dance artist and it kind of blows my mind that the whole world is celebrating a dancer. It's really moving," White-McGuire said.

Google said the homepage image is a credit to Woodward's hard work and attention to detail and reflects the close collaboration between him and the Martha Graham Dance Company.

"This combination of diligence and serendipity really shines through the final result on today's Google homepage," Google doodler Mike Dutton said, "and we hope our users enjoy it."