Diversion of Angels, originally titled Wilderness Stair, premiered at the Palmer Auditorium of Connecticut College on August 13, 1948. The title, as well as a set piece designed by Isamu Noguchi suggestive of desert terrain, was discarded after the first performance, and the dance was reconceived as a plotless ballet. Diversion of Angels is set to a romantic score by Norman Dello Joio and takes its themes from the infinite aspects of love. The Couple in Red embodies romantic love and “the ecstasy of the contraction”; the Couple in White, mature love; and the Couple in Yellow, a flirtatious and adolescent love.
Martha Graham recalled that when she first saw the work of the modern artist Wassily Kandinsky, she was astonished by his use of color, a bold slash of red across a blue background. She determined to make a dance that would express this. Diversion of Angels is that dance, and the Girl in Red, dashing across the stage, is the streak of red paint bisecting the Kandinsky canvas.