Photo of dance students rehearsing for a performance of "Cave of the Heart"

Department of Dance to perform Martha Graham’s “Cave of the Heart”

In the world of dance, few names shine as brightly as Martha Graham’s. Her groundbreaking work and the company bearing her name have been at the forefront of contemporary dance for decades. As the company approaches its 100th anniversary in 2026, Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Dance is embarking on an extraordinary journey as well—becoming the first university permitted to bring Martha Graham’s iconic “Cave of the Heart” to life.  

Presented as part of the department’s fall concert, Reflections, “Cave of the Heart” tells the story of Medea, a character of both immense power and intense emotions. The ballet explores themes of vengeance and passion, a testament to Martha Graham’s ability to tell a powerful narrative through dance, showcasing music by Samuel Barber and set design by Isamu Noguchi.  

Gary Galbraith, a former principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company and professor of dance at CWRU, took on the task of resurrecting this masterpiece—a ballet that holds a special place in his heart.  

“I’m really excited to work with our dancers and to share the richness of experience that I gained from dancing ‘Cave of the Heart’ all over the world,” he said. 

And for his students, it’s an exciting experience as well.

“I was in utter shock when I heard that our department was granted the chance to perform this work since it’s never been done outside of the Graham company,” said Megan Gregory (CWR ’23), a first-year graduate student within the department.  “I’m extremely excited to get out of my comfort zone and become Medea, a strong female character with a considerable amount of depth.”

For Karen Potter, chair of the department, the project highlights the importance of bringing these masterpieces to the stage.  

“It allows the university to remain at the forefront of contemporary dance, providing students and audiences with a unique opportunity to experience works by seminal artists of the 20th century,” she said.  In her view, the emphasis on contemporary and 20th-century works, combined with the integration of dance technology and wellness programs, ensures that students receive a comprehensive and cutting-edge dance education.    

Potter and Galbraith worked closely with the classics departments to enrich the educational and artistic experience for everyone involved. The collaboration provided a deep dive into the Greek mythology that inspired the ballet.

The Reflections fall concert will also feature Galbraith’s ”In Another Place and Time, a dance that features the use of LiDAR for motion tracking, New York choreographer Janice Rosario’s ”Brink” and the premiere of Potter’s ”Into the Wind.”  

Reflections will be performed Nov. 10, 11, 16–18 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 12 at 2:30 p.m. at Mather Dance Center on the CWRU campus. Reservations may be made on the department’s website or by calling 216.368.5246.