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Martha Graham Dance Company

44 posts in this topic

also, Cristian, why is some little frivolity with silly women who can't dance but 'got money' any worse than a great legend of ballet, your own idol, working with the Castro regime because of her own ambitions

You're completely right about it, Patrick. It is not any worse...in fact, morally speaking, Alonso's political maneuvering-(Vaganova's own story come to mind here, BTW)- could rank in a lower level than those of Moffie or whoever got the idea to get her onstage, and I despise this strategy of her as well as I adore her Giselle. Still, Moffie should not had been allowed to be up there...no matter what.

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Aren't the fairy tale characters in "Sleeping Beauty" a representation of the aristocracy playing in costumes at one of their celebratory balls?

We wouldn't have ballet if the French aristocrats weren't dancing with each other.

That second line ranks as one of the most profound in its simplicity I've ever heard. Everybody secretly knows it, and a lot of people don't want to admit it! You've really tickled me with that one :clapping:

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Now, if I were to see them deciding to let Britney Spears do 'Lamentation' and insist on getting the stretchy garment made for her...yes, that would be different.

Yes it would. But Britney Spears? Isn't she long off the charts? I can see you must be living right, since you have even less familiarity with that segment of commercial pop music than I do. On the other hand, I had almost managed to forget Spears before I read your post. No thanks to you for reminding me. :P

KFW,

I really have to take exception to this, Britney, forgotten??? Off the charts???? Passe???? And here I was thinking Balletalert was made up of a community of the most clued in aesthetically minded culture vultures. May I just point out Britney's recent discography, a veritable banquet of poptastic riches:

Albums:

Blackout (2007) Worldwide Sales 3,100,000. US 2 UK 2

Circus (2009) Worldwide Sales 4,000,000 US 1, UK 1

Femme Fatale (MARCH 15th 2011)

Singles:

Gimme More (2007) US 3, UK 3 (US Platinum)

Piece of Me (2007) US 18, UK 2 (US Platinum)

Womanizer (2008) US 1, UK 1

Circus (2009) US 3

If U Seek Amy (2009) US 3

3 (2009) US 1

Hold It Against Me (2010) US 1

Documentaries:

Britney For the Record (2009)

World Tours:

The Circus Starring Britney Spears 2009 - March 3 - Nov 29th 500,000 tickets sold grossing $131m

Currently the fifth biggest recording artiste in the World.

However, I do have to agree with Helene that Lady Gaga would be better suited to the Graham roles in the rep. I can see Britney's special qualities of lyricism and vulnerability would be better suited to the roles once inhabited by Ethel Winter, Helen McGhee & Yuriko.

For the granite magnitude of the roles originated and danced by the likes of May O'Donnell, Mary Hinkson & Jane Dudley who better than Beyonce to step into those (barefooted) shoes. Beyonce would surely smize it fierce in full-on Sasha Fierce mode.

And Justin Bieber for the Merce Cunningham roles? Jay Z for the Hawkins?

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And Justin Bieber for the Merce Cunningham roles?

Oh, I need brain bleach for that thought :lol:

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Two negative reviews from Alastair Macaulay regarding the Graham company's current performances in New York:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/arts/dance/martha-graham-dance-company-opens-season.html?ref=dance

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/18/arts/dance/martha-graham-dance-company-at-the-rose-theater-review.html?ref=dance

The problems Macaulay mentions in the second review are the same ones I wrote about earlier in this thread: Graham dancers not truly believing in Graham's work (thereby rendering it ludicrous) and the works themselves being incomprehensible without the aid of a program.

In the first review, Macaulay states that, "It should go without saying that Martha Graham is one of the greatest of all American artists and one of the great choreographers of all time." If so, why are most reviews of the latter-day Graham company negative in tone? The easy, obvious answer would be to say that the Graham dancers are performing the works in a false way and this falsity obscures the greatness of the works.

A more honest rendering of events would be to ask whether or not the Graham repertory, as a whole, was ever as great as its most ardent propagandists told us it was. (Macaulay himself states that the works she made between 1960 and her death in 1991 aren't worth watching.) In other words, were critics of Martha Graham's day responding to her (and her forceful and magnetic stage personality) or were they responding to the works themselves, some of which (particularly Graham's Post-WWII "Greek phase" works) seem more like performance art than actual dances? Just wondering . . .

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A more honest rendering of events would be to ask whether or not the Graham repertory, as a whole, was ever as great as its most ardent propagandists told us it was. (Macaulay himself states that the works she made between 1960 and her death in 1991 aren't worth watching.) In other words, were critics of Martha Graham's day responding to her (and her forceful and magnetic stage personality) or were they responding to the works themselves, some of which (particularly Graham's Post-WWII "Greek phase" works) seem more like performance art than actual dances? Just wondering . . .

Miliosr,

I really have to take exception with the notion that Graham's genius, contribution and repertory aren't great, nor the work of a true genius, that it was Graham's personality not choreographic genius that was the main draw. But yes, I do agree that the company is in an atrocious state.

Macauley unkindly suggests that her last three decades of achievement were worthless but in that time she choreographed "Acrobats of God", Phaedra, and many beautiful works such as Acts of Light, which demonstrated that while the main thrust of her creativity was spent, she still had it, she knew how to construct thrilling, beautiful, technically demanding dance that leaves many of the dancemakers today in the dust.

I last saw the company in 2003 and they were bad, the quality of dancers was mediocre to downright poor and it's sad that Janet Eilber seems to not trust the legacy of Graham enough to speak for itself, but trusts Richard Wilson, the egregious Richard Move etc to provide the main body of an evening while programming around them second rate Graham works.

Macauley also takes out of context De Mille's "Wagner Picasso" statement, in that the argument is that Picasso & Wagner created out of an existing art form, progressing it to the next level, whereas Graham literally remade the world in her image precisely because there was nothing there.

It's a tragedy that Graham's contribution to the world theatre is so underappreciated now, but the Graham technique which provided the cornerstone of contemporary dance training for decades trains dancers in matchless core strength. Also the main body of Graham's rep is just a catalogue of beautiful, riveting, awesome dance - it's just a pity that no one is dancing the works, or at the very least with no awareness of what they actually are.

Seeing old films of Heretic, Frontier, Appalachian Spring, Diversion of Angels, created on those matchless dance personalities her genius is irrefutable, the works speak for themselves, the tragedy is that now they're entrusted to dancers and a company so battered and flailing for identity they lose all meaning.

Someone asked why Graham's works aren't controlled by a trust, they are just as Balanchine's, the sad fact is that no one wants to dance them anymore, no ballet company wants to train its dancers to dance Appalachian Spring, Diversion those works which could be staged on ballet dancers (Paris Opera, ABT both once danced selected works). Because Graham technique is hard and ruthless but absolutely magical and beautiful.

Even in Graham's lifetime people complained that from about the mid to late 70s on, the ascension of Protas, that Graham dance and dancers were losing their identity, but if you look at the company then they're all virtuosos, albeit very balletic, as compared to that pale imitation of Graham we have now.

I don't disagree that the company is now a sad pale shadow, but I absolutely disagree with anyone who may suggest that Graham was anything less than one of the greatest dance geniuses who ever lived. Her contribution to what we have is beyond immense and her best work are masterpieces. However, seeing what they are now, makes me realise that Cunningham's decision is the best one, rather than have his company and work head down this same route.

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I really have to take exception with the notion that Graham's genius, contribution and repertory aren't great, nor the work of a true genius, that it was Graham's personality not choreographic genius that was the main draw.

That's fine . . . but I reserve for myself the right to cut across the grain of received wisdom which holds that Graham was/is/will always be a genius.

Macauley unkindly suggests that her last three decades of achievement were worthless but in that time she choreographed "Acrobats of God", Phaedra, and many beautiful works such as Acts of Light, which demonstrated that while the main thrust of her creativity was spent, she still had it, she knew how to construct thrilling, beautiful, technically demanding dance that leaves many of the dancemakers today in the dust.

I saw the Graham company perform Acts of Light in October 2006 and, with the exception of the concluding section, I thought most of it was laughable. Maybe it was a performance problem but I loved "Steps in the Street" from Chronicle on the same program and thought the company was excellent in it.

I last saw the company in 2003 and they were bad, the quality of dancers was mediocre to downright poor and it's sad that Janet Eilber seems to not trust the legacy of Graham enough to speak for itself, but trusts Richard Wilson, the egregious Richard Move etc to provide the main body of an evening while programming around them second rate Graham works.

ITA w/ you here. I found the October 2006 performance very disrespectful to Graham -- the dancers making fun of her in prepared remarks, etc.

I don't disagree that the company is now a sad pale shadow, but I absolutely disagree with anyone who may suggest that Graham was anything less than one of the greatest dance geniuses who ever lived. Her contribution to what we have is beyond immense and her best work are masterpieces.

I guess here's where you and I will have to part company. I believe the greatness of performance works should peak through even in the face of inadequate or just plain bad performance. I say Miami City Ballet give an ultra-boring performance of Balanchine's Apollo but the greatness of the work still peaked through to me. I can't say the same about most of the Graham repertory I've seen, including Appalachian Spring.

However, seeing what they are now, makes me realise that Cunningham's decision is the best one, rather than have his company and work head down this same route.

I'm going to see Limon's company in June (in a college auditorium!) -- I'll let you know how it goes.

I've missed sparring w/ you buddy!!! :wink:

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I think the problem lies with the direction. The decision to replace Terese Capucilli and Christine Dakin was a disastrous mistake IMO.

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I've missed sparring w/ you buddy!!! :wink:

Oh, you wish. Now, as ever you are punching way above your weight. I'm the Casey Heynes of Ballet Alert.

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I've missed sparring w/ you buddy!!! :wink:

Oh, you wish. Now, as ever you are punching way above your weight. I'm the Casey Heynes of Ballet Alert.

It wouldn't be the the first time and I'm certain it won't be the last. I go on in my quixotic way . . .

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If you were wondering how the five slumming socialites fared, New York Social Diary is on the case!

http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/node/1905649

Interesting that Muffie Potter Aston and Grace Hightower DeNiro were a part of this since they were heavily involved with ABT not so long ago.

And, since I'm in a carping mood, the titular description should more accurately read 85th year instead of 85th season . . .

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I thoroughly freakin' loved it. How nice to get to know Muffie's children and parents! I hadn't known to whom Robert De Niro was married, and he approved of his wife appearing in the 'genius' 'Maple Leaf Rag'. Oh man, this made my day, and it was already doing all right.

Love the pic of Ms. Eilber, she's so 'E.T'. I knew the company was going to emerge from all the interference.

I had tea and brioches with a 'Muffie' myself in Paris, yes indeed-- on the RUE D'ASTORJ! a cote de l'Opera. This was in the home of Mrs. Stickney Hamilton, who at that time was the Paris Editor of Harper's Bazaar. Who could ask for anything more? (well, she did get me into the Givenchy Spring Collections Show, so there's that...)

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To add to the conversation, Kathleen O'Connell - a familiar writer here, subbed for me on the opening night at The Post while I was in the UK last week.

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To add to the conversation, Kathleen O'Connell - a familiar writer here, subbed for me on the opening night at The Post while I was in the UK last week.

:clapping: Kathleen O'Connell!!!!

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I haven't seen the Graham Company in many years----the last time was with Nureyev in Appalachian Spring :flowers: I saw them once again last Sunday at the Rose Theater in NYC--and I can now understand all the negative talk about the Company. "Embattled Garden" came across extremely well with a beautiful Miki Orihara who had excellent support from Tadej Brdnik, Katherine Crockett and Maurizio Nardi. (I never knew that Adam supposedly had another wife before Eve!). A memorable 20 minutes. It was followed by "Snow on the Mesa" by Robert Wilson---how this 70 minute yawn has survived since 1995 I will never understand. It was intended to be a 'tribute to Martha'---what audacity. :helpsmilie:

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