Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Alexandra

Graham in the 1920s

Recommended Posts

There are dozens of Murray's photos (scroll down the list for the Doris Humphrey ones, some quite famous, some new to me.) I've seen his photos, but never registered the name, but he seems to have photographed EVERYBODY in the arts -- lots of early film stars, actresses (Helen Hayes, Katharine Cornell), musicians as well as dancers.

Share this post


Link to post

Have been and come back -- this is full of images, including La Argentina, Fred and Adele Astaire, Irene Castle, De Mille from her solo period, Anna Duncan, Mikhail Mordkin, Michio Ito -- it just rolls on.

A couple images were curious. One of something called "The Witch Dance with the Fokine Ballet, ca. 1924." Male soloist in "exotic" role that I don't recognize.

And a series of photos of Rose Rolando (a theatrical dancer) including one with Chester Hale.

And the wonders of the alphabet put Molnar, Ferenc next to Monet, Claude.

Go to the index and just scroll through.

Share this post


Link to post

It's an absolute treasure trove -- I didn't find the Witch Dance, but I'll go back for a look (and finish scrolling through the alphabet).

Share this post


Link to post

She looks like she could out-"Nautch" Miss Ruthie in those photographs. :)

Share this post


Link to post

land of Goshen!

that's some exotic dancer!

I like the snaky attitudes the best....

fantastic plastique

Share this post


Link to post
I like the snaky attitudes the best....

fantastic plastique

Absolutely! What is it about plastique that we hardly see it any more?

Share this post


Link to post

High energy and speed?

Modern dance wouldn't call it "epaulement" -- they'd speak about being three-dimensional in space, I think -- but it's part of the same thing. There's a sculptural quality to the Graham -- and the Mordkin -- photos, where today's dancers in any genre look more, in photographs, like paper dolls.

Also (again, just thinking out loud) "plastique" used to be taught. You took plastique classes. I don't think that's taught anywhere now. Ballet dancers take modern classes, supposedly to get loosened up. But modern dancers are trying to get "cut" and "buff" and going for the speed and the technique.

Calling Isadora........

Share this post


Link to post

Back after thinking this over a bit.

I agree and I don't agree with Alexandra here. Yes, some ballet dancers still use modern dance classes as a kind of expressive therapy work, but it seems to me that the major emphasis in so much new work is focused outwards, in long lines and extentions through space (the high energy and speed that A refers to)

But at least in my little part of the dance world, the emphasis in contemporary work isn't necessarily in being buff, but in being loose, available for anything. Contact improvisation and release techniques still wield a huge influence, and the kind of loose-limbed attentiveness they require is more and more the default posture in this work.

It seems to me that plastique has much more emphasis on intentional shapes and on an intentional presentation than I see in much contemporary work today. Shapes are often the fleeting results of action, not the goal of controlled activity. Honestly, I'm not sure that, if you "froze" many current modern dancers and asked them to describe what they looked like without use of a mirror, that they would be able to give a detailed answer. That's not what they're interested in.

The other thought I had has to do with proximity. It seems that plastique works best in situations where you can be relatively close to the dancer. That kind of detail can be washed out if you're too far away to see the specific relationships. Many of the dances I can think of that excel in this are designed to be seen close up, flamenco is just one example. And certainly the photographs we're looking at here feel very close up, as the figure fills the frame.

Given all of this, I'm still not so sure why we don't see much of it any more, especially since it seems to trigger such juicy responses from viewers.

Share this post


Link to post

All of her positions are so clear in those photos, which goes along with what you're saying, sandi. And your point about dancers being different in different places is well taken. in D.C. we don't have too many contact improv troops now (we used to have about a half-dozen). We talk a lot. But we also have troops that are going for the burn.

I think your point about small spaces is also a very good one, and during the 1920s and 1930s, there was certainly a lot of intimate dancing. But there was plastique, too, in opera house ballet as late as the 1960s -- think of the Bolshoi in its Spartacus era. Those dancers were very clearly sons of Mordkin, muscularly speaking. And very three-dimensional. Ulanova and Fonteyn were three-dimensional, and they could show you plastique to the back of the Met.

I think it's that we're after different things now. It all goes back to what every teacher of note says: it's all about technique today.

Share this post


Link to post
Sign in to follow this  
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...