The materials in this free exhibition were culled from the Library's extensive Martha Swope archives. In 2010, the photographer gave the Library over a million and a half images on contact sheets (and their corresponding negatives), 152,000 slides, and more than 120,000 prints.

Martha Swope, now 84, is a native Texan. She moved to New York City to study dance at the School of American Ballet and began her photographic career in the 1950s (self-taught using a Brownie camera), eventually becoming the official photographer of the New York City Ballet and the Martha Graham company. Among the many other companies she photographed were The Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre, the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and the New York Shakespeare Festival. Her photos have been published in the New York Times (where she was primary performance photographer for many years), Playbill, People, Newsweek, and Life magazine. In 2004, she received a Tony for Excellence; in 2006, The League of Professional Theater Women gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Anyone interested in the performing arts in America during the second half of the 20th century will find much to admire in this small but invaluable exhibition.

Martha Swope: THE REHEARSAL On view until January 26, 2013; Free admission

Vincent Astor Gallery at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln


Hours: Monday 12-8; Tuesday 12-6; Wednesday 12-6; Thursday 12-8; Friday 12-6; Saturday 12-6; Sunday: closed