Posted 07 June 2009 - 10:17 AM
Here's another aspect of musicality that I think i figured out when discussing Graham with someone last night. You can see it very easily in both of her big filmed dances, 'Night Journey' and 'Appalachian Spring'. It has to do with the compositional process primarily, in that it's extremely fugal, contrapuntal, with movements in 'several voices' like a Bach fugue--you have in several scenes, independent dance-actions going on in 'Appalachian Spring', except in the solos, when the other dancers are frozen and remain motionless. Right before the Bride and Husbandmen kneel at the altar for the brief blessing by the evangelist, there had been a whole quick series of interactions, between the husbandman and the preacher, the Bride and the Pioneer Woman, and as they walk to the altar, the 4 followers all whisk through as a final breezy punctuation with their adorable petticoats and tilted heads to be still and respect the little ceremony. Likewise, in 'Night Journey', you have all sorts of simultaneous movements in the Chorus, with Oedipus and Jocasta twisting and writhing, doing grotesque movements here then there, getting the images in sometimes 3 discrete locations on the stage, complicating it still further when they're tying themselves up in the rope and forming yet more geometric shapes, while the Chorus marches in royal fashion, not one detail of which, no matter how small, has not been carefully thought out.
INteresting Simon G pointed out the actual viola in Concerto Barocco, I hadn't even been thinking of that. At the moment of dashing off that about Balanchine/Farrell, i was thinking about a viole (or it could have been a violin or viola, or maybe even sometimes a 'built instrument' like Harry Partch made; was thinking more of certain kinds of vibrato-like movement I saw in performances of 'Mozartiana' live, and which you can still see even on the DVD of 'Tzigane', where Farrell's body seems to extend beyond its already lengthy frame--this gives a quality of continued vibrato that you can see in her body in that piece (and surely elsewhere, I just remember that image in particular a few times on viewing that video) seem to vibrate, because of course it does not materially extend to 10 feet, etc., it's a matter of a sense of movement even when the body is still, that would be like the vibrato I was thinking of (but interested to hear about the 'real viola passage', need to see CB again.)
Anyway, two very different kinds of 'musicality choreographing'. and primarily writing now because once I hit upon the word 'fugal', i could understand that that was a Bach-like way of musical thinking that Graham was fully capable of in seeing her many different kinds of movement all saying different things simultaneiously. It's not an exact paraller to a Bach Fugue, because each voice has to be more closely allied in terms of material character to not be discordant, whereas discord is not a jarring thing when several non-harmonious kinds of dance action are taking place in 'Night Journey'. Also, Graham had so many scores written for her by important young composers of her modernist day, that you have a built=in collaboration with her choreography and the music of Dello Joio, Menotti, Barber, Copland, etc., and it often works beautifully. I would be interested to know how Diversion of Angels was put together. The Woman in Red can dance against the music a lot, and yet you see the Apollonian Woman in White dancing in an almost ballet feeling to more lyrical and flowing music early on in the piece.