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Martha Graham Dance Company


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#1 abatt

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 08:48 AM

Here's a tidbit that made my stomach turn. How far the Graham Company has fallen:

http://cityroom.blog...-the-socialites

#2 papeetepatrick

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 09:30 AM

I can't see the problem, it's just for the gala, and not for a serious piece. Galas are supposed to be a little less 'serious art', aren't they? I've heard of a lot of sillier things for galas. The worst thing is they don't have enough money, and I never heard them with a live orchestra but once in the last years. Maybe the quality has gone down seriously in the last couple of years, but the 'socialites' have always been a big deal with Graham (from Bethsabee Rothschild to Jacqueline Onassis, although I guess they didn't 'dance'.)

#3 Natalia

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 11:57 AM

Of course, one of the socialites is named 'Muffie'! :) ([size="1"]see Official Preppy Handbook, ca 1980[/size]) I'm with papeeteep here, though. Hey, if it brings in much-needed ca$h and it's a one-time thing, bring it on!

#4 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 01:52 PM

I don't know, but I've never been convinced about the ever popular "all for the much-needed cash" mantra. And yes, the few times I've said to welcome the idea I've just been totally sarcastic. When I read this post, Irina Baronova's autobiography came to mind right away, about when she said that by the time she showed little discrimination in the jobs she accepted-(those at the Roxy theater)- in lieu of ballet assignments due to a good cash influx, Igor Youskevitch crudely criticized her for “prostituting her art".
So I just hope I never get to see some Miami socialites wearing tutus at the Arsht Center...

Edited to add;
Just for the records of rich socialites as dancers, here's a glimpse of some of the most famous ones down here...so just imagine them up onstage...
I mean..."MUFFIE"?!...Really...?!

Ah...Disgraceful.


#5 papeetepatrick

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 02:37 PM

Cristian--it's only for one night, and it's not even the only piece on the program. I'd as lief see it as the 45-50 minute piece by Peter Martins and Paul McCartney for their gala--and I don't mean just the Martins either. That's far more depressing to me, and they never have to worry about having recorded music at NYCB. Not that I might not be at least as happy with it, with their often poor orchestral-playing level, and the dreadful acoustics at Koch Theater (I'd much rather see RDB at the Met so as to hear the music properly as well as see this beautiful company, but I can't imagine they'd sell enough, it's too rarefied, not flashy enough.) McCartney's 'Liverpool Oratorio' was no better than okay, and made worth listening to only because of Hadley and TeKanawa and that beautiful church deserved something special (I've been in it, and it's quite awesome). And if $$$$$ don't matter that much, then in that case, NYCB should do without all its improvements that David H. Koch's $$$$$$$$$$ made (and didn't made.) Martha Graham having to use recorded music? It's ridiculous. I don't care how they get the money, frankly, since NYCB has certainly proved they don't care who they get it from (and that's not because I blame them either, I don't, but they're stuck with a not entirely pristine record, in this case, IF you know what I mean...) Admittedly, the combo of McCartney/Martins makes it sound doubly bad, and with Koch's money they didn't even have to do it either (but they think it's WONDERFUL, you know.)

#6 dirac

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 06:47 PM

Here's a tidbit that made my stomach turn. How far the Graham Company has fallen:

http://cityroom.blog...-the-socialites


I agree, abatt. Sad.

Rich women donating money and time is one thing, and often a good one. This is quite another. You'd think they'd be embarrassed, but dancing onstage is a fantasy for many women, and these just happen to have the deep pockets to make it happen.

#7 kfw

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 07:31 PM

I agree, abatt. Sad.

Rich women donating money and time is one thing, and often a good one. This is quite another. You'd think they'd be embarrassed, but dancing onstage is a fantasy for many women, and these just happen to have the deep pockets to make it happen.

Sad, yes, that the satisfaction of aiding the company (and having their names on the donors list in the program) isn't reward enough. But this is just a logical extension of the "naming opportunities" that give us the "Koch" Theater and the Your-Corporate-Name-Here sports stadium. Call it egotism, call it the fulfillment of a fantasy (funny, I never, ever dreamed of partnering Patrica McBride) it's really nothing new. What really fascinates me is the thought that a gala audience might countenance this display. I've heard of Dancing with the Stars. Dancing by My Upper East Side Neighbor? Will the $600 and up gala attendees really accept this? And what does it say about the company that their gala excludes people who can't or won't pony up 600 bucks?

#8 LiLing

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 10:43 PM

I remember when a Graham gala involved Nureyev and Fonteyn in a serious piece tailored for them, and people thought Martha was selling out! Now we've come to this.
Yes, it is tacky, and moreover, doesn't exactly sound like a brilliant fundraising gimmick. Who would want to see this, other than the women's family and friends? Let's hope there are enough of them to fill the theater. I fear it will drive away potential attendees,who will avoid having to sit through an embarrassing vanity piece.

#9 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 06:45 AM


I agree, abatt. Sad.

Rich women donating money and time is one thing, and often a good one. This is quite another. You'd think they'd be embarrassed, but dancing onstage is a fantasy for many women, and these just happen to have the deep pockets to make it happen.

Sad, yes, that the satisfaction of aiding the company (and having their names on the donors list in the program) isn't reward enough. But this is just a logical extension of the "naming opportunities" that give us the "Koch" Theater and the Your-Corporate-Name-Here sports stadium. Call it egotism, call it the fulfillment of a fantasy (funny, I never, ever dreamed of partnering Patrica McBride) it's really nothing new. What really fascinates me is the thought that a gala audience might countenance this display. I've heard of Dancing with the Stars. Dancing by My Upper East Side Neighbor? Will the $600 and up gala attendees really accept this? And what does it say about the company that their gala excludes people who can't or won't pony up 600 bucks?


A gala is for one reason only -- to raise money. The job of the Gala Committee is to haul out its collective rolodex and 1) fill as many $3,500 $25,000* tables as possible, 2) pack the souvenir dinner program with paid ads, and 3) score loot for the swag bag. (Tickets to the actual performance are for the little people to buy and sell. $600 in the NYC benefit circuit is chump change.) The benefit circuit is crowded and competitive, and the performance itself isn't what's going to fill those tables. A good show is nice, but that's not why the donors are there. Many are there because their friends and business associates have persuaded them to pony up the requisite bucks - and they're there to network, too, of course. (Some of these folks do three events a night during the high season - drinks at one, dinner at another, dessert and dancing at a third. An actual performance challenges the evening's schedule.) Putting Somers Farkas, Cornelia Guest, Grace Hightower, Karen Lefrak, and Muffie Aston Potter on stage - now that might help fill some tables. (My guess is that these ladies haven't just donated money -- they're out working the phones or whatever socialites work these days to sell those tables. They know why they're on the program.) Patronage -- 'twere ever thus. Felix Rohatyn slammed the whole benefit gala hustle back in 1986 and was duly exiled from the social circuit for a while for his pains.

I'm with Papeetepatrick: it's harmless. It's for one night only, and then it will go away. And who knows, it might actually be charming.

*Edited to add: Just checked the gala details- a top table (for 10) goes for $25K. The $3.5K tables are for "young professionals 35 and under." And now I see the logic of putting a glitzy hotel with a big function room and a performance venue in the same building ...

#10 abatt

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 07:14 AM

George Balanchine and various other choreographers had the benefit of very good legal advice. Their works cannot be performed in any public setting without the approval of a trust which oversees performance quality and standards of the copyrighted choreography. Apparently there is no such quality control over the performance of the Martha Graham works, since socialites with no dance experience or qualifications will be "performing." It is my understanding that the socialites will be performing in a public space - the Rose Theater at Jazz At Lincoln Center, where people have paid to see the performance. This is not being performed in someone's private living room or private estate. That's why this situation is so outrageous, in my opinion.

#11 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 07:31 AM

George Balanchine and various other choreographers had the benefit of very good legal advice. Their works cannot be performed in any public setting without the approval of a trust which oversees performance quality and standards of the copyrighted choreography. Apparently there is no such quality control over the performance of the Martha Graham works, since socialites with no dance experience or qualifications will be "performing." It is my understanding that the socialites will be a performance in a public space - the Rose Theater at Jazz At Lincoln Center, where people have paid to see the performance. This is not being performed in someone's private living room or private estate. That's why this situation is so outrageous, in my opinion.


Perhaps "Maple Leaf Rag" is indestructible, but yes, if they're going to do actual violence to the work it might have been better to commission a nice little capriccio from a choreographer who was up for the challenge. Sad to say, it would probably cost less than the flowers for the tables.

#12 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 08:39 AM

The job of the Gala Committee is to haul out its collective rolodex and 1) fill as many $3,500 $25,000* tables as possible, 2) pack the souvenir dinner program with paid ads, and 3) score loot for the swag bag. (Tickets to the actual performance are for the little people to buy and sell. $600 in the NYC benefit circuit is chump change.) The benefit circuit is crowded and competitive, and the performance itself isn't what's going to fill those tables. A good show is nice, but that's not why the donors are there. Many are there because their friends and business associates have persuaded them to pony up the requisite bucks - and they're there to network, too, of course. (Some of these folks do three events a night during the high season - drinks at one, dinner at another, dessert and dancing at a third. An actual performance challenges the evening's schedule.) Putting Somers Farkas, Cornelia Guest, Grace Hightower, Karen Lefrak, and Muffie Aston Potter on stage - now that might help fill some tables. (My guess is that these ladies haven't just donated money -- they're out working the phones or whatever socialites work these days to sell those tables. They know why they're on the program.) Patronage -- 'twere ever thus. Felix Rohatyn slammed the whole benefit gala hustle back in 1986 and was duly exiled from the social circuit for a while for his pains.


Wow...I wish I could "get" this...

#13 kfw

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 09:08 AM

You make good points, Kathleen, but tickets to the actual performance run $600, effectively excluding the "little people" altogether. So the company's opening night becomes the private plaything, in more than one sense of the word, of the rich.

#14 puppytreats

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 09:21 AM


George Balanchine and various other choreographers had the benefit of very good legal advice. Their works cannot be performed in any public setting without the approval of a trust which oversees performance quality and standards of the copyrighted choreography. Apparently there is no such quality control over the performance of the Martha Graham works, since socialites with no dance experience or qualifications will be "performing." It is my understanding that the socialites will be a performance in a public space - the Rose Theater at Jazz At Lincoln Center, where people have paid to see the performance. This is not being performed in someone's private living room or private estate. That's why this situation is so outrageous, in my opinion.


Perhaps "Maple Leaf Rag" is indestructible, but yes, if they're going to do actual violence to the work it might have been better to commission a nice little capriccio from a choreographer who was up for the challenge. Sad to say, it would probably cost less than the flowers for the tables.


An article in a local UES paper yesterday said that the piece is a parody. So, isn't this really fitting?

#15 abatt

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 09:28 AM

The performance at the Rose Theater has tickets available at all price levels according to the website of Jazz at Lincoln Center, which runs/rents the Rose Theater. I just checked the website for Jazz at Lincoln Center, and ticket prices for the performance only on March 15 range from $73 to $133. Tickets for the performance can be purchased by the general public. It is only the gala dinner that costs $600. The socialites are performing at the Rose Theater. Apart from being an insult to Graham's legacy, this is tantamount to consumer fraud because the unsuspecting public believes they are buying tickets to see a dance performance by a professional dance company, when in fact they will be seeing the socialites "perform" Maple Leaf Rag.

What's next? David Koch as Apollo? Oh, wait, the Balanchine Trust would never allow it.


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