Martha Graham is certainly the grande dame and actually the founder of modern dance. She commissioned and created the choreography for some of the most famous ballets of the Twentieth Century, including Aaron Copeland's Appalachian Spring.
Among Martha's students were Sophie Maslow and a young lady named Marjorie Mazia. In addition to being one of Martha's best dancers, Sophie also choreographed dance productions of her own. For one of the shows she needed a folk singer and had heard a set of original recordings that had been released by RCA. She knew the singer was in town and asked Marjorie, who had also heard the records, if she wanted to come along. So Marjorie said sure. So she met the singer, and eventually became the wife of Woody Guthrie and the mother of Nora, Joady Ben, and of course, Arlo.
It was not only aspiring dancers who studied with Martha. Many actors realized the physical training and discipline acquired in her studio would help them in their own profession. Among the thespians who stood by the rail in Martha's studio was Woody Allen. Woody was asked if he took his lessons seriously. He said he took them very seriously indeed. It was his fellow students, Woody said, who found his lessons hilarious.