Martha Graham dance company
Posted 26 January 2003 - 03:57 PM
Posted 30 January 2003 - 01:08 PM
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:
Posted 30 January 2003 - 06:30 PM
Go see the Graham company!
Posted 30 January 2003 - 06:48 PM
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...)
Posted 30 January 2003 - 07:04 PM
Or, as Giannina would say, green green green!
Posted 03 February 2003 - 09:17 AM
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.
Posted 03 February 2003 - 02:38 PM
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...
Posted 04 February 2003 - 05:56 AM
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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