In 1934 Vanity Fair published one of its "Impossible Interview", featuring fan dancer Sally Rand and modern dancer Martha Graham. Here a reproduction. Besides the imagininary interview between tese two very different dancers, the piece presented Miguel Covarrubias's coloured cartoon, which exemplifies the style of the two artists. On the one hand, Rand is presented as curvacious and naked, partially covered by pink feathers; her face expresses joy, and is framed by her curly long blond hair. On the other hand, Graham is portrayed as skinny and dressed with a red dress, through which she creates dynamic lines; her face is dark, her eyes made of spiralling lines, and her hair black and straight.
Covarrubas's cartoon is significant in conveying how Graham's dance was perceived at the time. Graham was not yet the icon she would become from the 1940s onward, and her approach to dance was seen as too serious and obscure. A dance critic (possibly John Martin) used to say that, as a dancer, she did an inadmissable thing, she made you think!
Graham's attempt, as well as the attempt of other modern dancers, such as Doris Humphrey and Helen Tamiris, was to create a respectable place for dance in the arts. To do so, she avoided all the seductive and exotic tinges, which were typical of vaudeville circuits, and stripped body movement to its bare essentials.