Related Features


Your support helps us cover dance in New York City and beyond! Donate now.

Notes on Dancerly Goings On-Martha Graham As Seen by Robert Wilson

Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram

By Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram
View Profile | More From This Author

Published on February 21, 2011

Martha Graham Dance Company 85th Anniversary Season-Devastatingly Beautiful in Rehearsal

@Christine Jowers 2011

A Rehearsal Excerpt From Robert Wilson's Snow on The Mesa (1995) -only the 2nd commission by a guest artist for The Graham Company


Snow on the Mesa - "the works imagery evokes the creative journey of an artist" 



This year , The Martha Graham Company is focusing on its powerhouse collaborations of past and present while re-introducing us to the devasting beauty and crafts(wo)manship that is Graham's choreography.

This means we will be able to learn more about Graham in works inspired by her as well as her originals. Isn't it stunning how re- interpretations  of the classics can deepen our understanding and love for them? Think Shakespeare. Think Ballet. Yet American Modern Dance, classic American Modern dance, has been slow on the uptake with re-intepretation and new presentation. Precious about the sanctity of work?  Too busy struggling to stay valid? Perhaps a lot of both. It is tough out there in the dance world especially  if you are associated with the grand founding barefoot artists from the 1920s -50's.  People will either revere you for being a classic gem or spit on you because they just want to move on already from these  "museum"  pieces. How does one navigate in such a place?


Artistic Director Janet Eilber has done so with bravery, intelligence and integrity. Last  season,the companies collaboration with  SITI Co on a re-interpretation of  Graham's American Document along with its presentation of the Dance as a Weapon montage reminded audiences that  Martha Graham will not collect dust in a museum thank you very much. Her work  has a resilience and vibrancy along with a deep understanding of craft  that is vital  to the dance and theater worlds of today and tomorrow. 

"The Graham Company is filling its 85th Anniversary season with performances showcasing  our unparalleled legacy of creativity
- a legacy that is propelling the company into the future," says Eilber. " Our programs are filled with creations from an incredible range of artists who were inspired by or collaborated with Graham: from Robert Wilson to Bulareyaung Pagarlava, Isamu Noguchi to Donna Karan."

As for this dance enthusiast, I am particularly excited about the revival of  Graham's (1943) Deaths and Entrances ,with Bessie Winner Miki Orihara in the lead role, as well  its companion piece choreographed by Bulareyaung Pagarlava. The as yet untitled dance, a World Premiere, is a contemporary response to the 1943 work.  What I saw in rehearsal was exhilarating.


 A Rehearsal  Excerpt from Martha Graham's  Embattled Garden(1958) minus the Noguchi set-

Embattled Garden is described by The Graham Company as a serio-comedic melodrama . I was intrigued that  the characters include not only Adam and Eve and The Snake,but also, Adam's  apocryphal ex -wife Lillith. (Well, that can't be good... serio-comedic melodrama indeed) 

"I am absorbed in the magic of movement and light. Movement never lies. It is the magic of what I call the outer space of the imagination. There is a great deal of outer space, distant from our daily lives, where I feel our imagination wanders sometimes. It will find a planet or it will not find a planet, and that is what a dancer does." Martha Graham


The Dance Enthusiast Enthusiast shares opinions, observations, and calls to action from our editors and special guests in BAREFOOTNOTES. For more BAREFOOTNOTES click here.
Interested in writing a guest editorial? For consideration, contact

The Dance Enthusiast - News, Reviews, Interviews and an Open Invitation for YOU to join the Dance Conversation.

Related Features

More from this Author