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Martha Graham dance company


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#1 Estelle

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Posted 26 January 2003 - 03:57 PM

I've seen on the site of the Martha Graham Dance Company that they're currently performing at the Joyce Theater (for two weeks). Has anobody seen some performances? And do the company have any plan to tour abroad? I really hope that they will come back to France someday, all their last tours here have been very successful, and there are so many works in their NYC repertory that I've never seen ("Appalachian Spring", "Night journey", "Phaedra", "Embattled garden", "Dark meadow"...)

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 01:08 PM

I'd echo Estelle's call for posts -- I can't believe no one is going! This is an important season, with a terfific repertory!

Robert Greskovic reviewed it in the Wall Street Journal yesterday (available only to online subscribers) and Tobi Tobias reviewed it for the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday.

Here's the link to Tobias's piece:

http://www.philly.co...ily/5045253.htm

#3 glebb

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 06:30 PM

The last couple of minutes of "Appalachian Spring" are heaven.

Go see the Graham company!

#4 Manhattnik

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 06:48 PM

I went last week to a program with Appalachian Spring, Errand into the Maze, El Penitente, and Maple Leaf Rag. Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous!

I don't have my program with me, but I was struck by how good the company looked; not at all as if they'd come back from a long hiatus, which, indeed, they had! The Revivalist was a little weak, but the rest of the cast was superb. Appalachian Spring is one of the most brilliant and beautiful dances ever made -- what bliss to live somewhere where once can see that and Serenade in the same week!

When each dancer has his or her moment leaning on that fence and staring at, and past us, at the land, the earth, their future (us!), well, it's enough to bring me to tears right then and there.

Errand into the Maze was gorgeous (I should mention that the live orchestra sounded just fantastic!), and it's not hard to look at this and think it's all a cliche -- "we all have our own demons to face, our own internal labyrinths, our own Minotaurs to defeat," and, yet, as made by Graham, the story is endlessly compelling. The heroic woman, stepping akimbo over the rope leading into the strange structure at the heart of the maze, the fearsome yet oddly hobbled Minotaur, whom she seems to invoke with her own fears and doubts, the relentlessly percussive score echoing the terrified throbbing of her heart (or ours): these are just some of the things that make this such a great work of art, and speak of both the enduring human truths behind so many Greek myths, and Graham's gift for distilling and reinventing them.

I'd never seen El Penitente before, but I loved the sweetness, and deadpan humor, of Graham's depiction of what look to be Mexican passion plays.

I'd also never seen Maple Leaf Rag before, and I'm not in a hurry to see it again. Yes, it showed off the glorious flexible backs of the Graham dancer (what happened to the days when ballet dancers had glorious, flexible backs?), but the humor was more embarassing, with the misses vastly outnumbering the hits. Even in Graham's dotage, she had a gift for invention, but there's something a little unsettling about an Old Master parodying the masterpieces of her youth -- and feebly, at that.

I am beyond ecstatic that they're back; God willing they'll be filling larger theaters soon. I remember when they could fill the Met. (OK, Liza Minelli helped...)

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 07:04 PM

Thank you for that, Manhattnik. In the goodolddays the company came to DC every year, so I saw it a lot in my first years of dancegoing. I think if I had to pick one company in the world that I would have loved to see in its prime, it would be Graham. When I started watching the company it was past its prime, and the dances were looking a bit dusty. Graham, like Tudor and Fokine, was a choreographer whose genius I took on faith, but had never seen. Then one day I got a video of "Night Journey" and, even though it was a video, the performances were so fine -- and Graham was OLD! -- that I got it.

Or, as Giannina would say, green green green!

#6 Patricia

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 09:17 AM

I saw the company Friday night. The performance was sold out and very enthusiastic (though a cell phone went off during performance). I hope they continue performing at the Joyce because you can really "see" her choreography.

Two of the pieces on the program were new to me. PHAEDRA is far from Graham's best. It's an embarassing, repetitive attempt of material she did better before and after. The portrayal of Theseus as a pompus fool was accurate...but what's the surprise there? That in the 1960's the US State Department considered the dance "obscene" isn't surprising because it's so tacky. Graham's costumes and Noguchi's sets are, as always, magnificent, but there's not much else to work with.

The other major revival is CHRONICLE, a stunning all-female dance from the 1930's. The solo that begins is a monumental, mosterous sculpted figure come to life costumed in a full skirt, suggesting either the American or Spanish Civil War. The middle section, STEPS IN THE STREETS, began quietly but ends in a frenzy of movement. Program notes indicate helplessness - but these women were anything but. The finale, UNITY- PLEDGE TO THE FUTURE, when the soloist joins the other dancers, is the most thrilling thing I've ever seen of Graham's. The movement is fast yet never blurred. I'm so glad the company is performing again and offered me the chance to see this one.

DIVERSION OF ANGELS was in the middle instead of the opening the program. While I give credit to ABT for attempting ANGELS, it only fully comes to life when Graham dancers dance it. For me, it's perfect art.

#7 Estelle

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 02:38 PM

Thanks for all those reviews. Now I'm even more jealous :)

I saw "Chronicle" a few seasons ago near Paris, and found it impressive, but as it is a reconstruction of an early work, I was wondering how authentic it was?
Also when seeing "Steps in the street", strangely I thought about "Serenade"- two works made in the same periode, with a rather large female corps de ballet, but with little in common, except perhaps some dark sense of fate...

#8 Patricia

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 05:56 AM

According to the program notes:

Part 1 (SPECTRA-1914) was reconstructed in 1994 by Terese Capucilli and Carol Fried from film clips and Barbara Morgan photographs (which aren't part of the MARTHA GRAHAM IN PHOTOGRAPHS because I checked my copy).

Part 2 (STEPS IN THE STREETS) was recontructed by Martha Graham and Yuriko assisted by the Julien Bryan film(no date given).

Part 3 (PRELUDE TO ACTION) was reconstructed by Sophie Maslow assisted by Terese Capulcilli, Carol Fried, and Diane Grey from film clips and Barbara Morgan photographs (again, no date given).


I once read that SERENADE's opening moments used to make Ms. Graham cry.


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