Martin, John (1893–1985) By Conner, Lynne
One of the first full-time newspaper dance reviewers in the United States, John Martin wrote for The New York Times from 1927 to 1962 and was often referred to as the dean of American dance critics during his 35-year tenure. Martin used his bully pulpit at the Times to launch a discourse within the dance community surrounding the aesthetics of modernism in dance as well as to educate and rally a new audience. In the process he helped to establish dance reviewing as a specialized field of arts reporting and commentary and not just a subgenre of music criticism, as it had been treated before 1927. A vocal defender of the legitimacy of an American modern dance as defined by New York-based practitioners such as Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey, Martin was among the first theorists of it, outlining a poetics of its form and function while introducing a new vocabulary. His prolific output includes thousands of essays and reviews for the Times and other periodicals, seven books, and a series of highly influential lectures given at the New School for Social Research, Bennington School of the Dance, and in the latter part of his career at the University of California-Los Angeles.