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Graham 2013

Graham 2013
Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram

By Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram
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Published on February 18, 2013

Coming Down the Mountain -Transformation is the Key

Visiting the World of Graham

February 19th, 2013

Christine Jowers for The Dance Enthusiast
For Myth and Transformation the Martha Graham Dance Company at The Joyce Theater - February 20–March 3, 2013- click here

When Martha Graham was alive, as Janet Eilber, Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, describes it, she was “the goddess on the mountain.” People would clamor to breathe her air and partake of her aura. Without the goddess, (Graham died in 1991), the company was in danger of becoming “just another mountain” in the dance world - one of the many dance companies in an ever crowded market competing not only with other newer groups but also with the easy distractions of basic cable, reality TV and the internet.
When Eilber came to direct the Graham Center in 2005, she set a 180-degree turn in motion, “It was a total transformation from the way business was done when Martha was alive. (Today) we are coming down the mountain to meet the audience.”
At first the travels weren’t so easy.When Eilber boldly invited the award winning performer, choreographer and film maker, Richard Move ( highly regarded worldwide for his ability to embody Martha Graham) to emcee (as Martha) at the 2006 Graham gala, the old guard rolled their eyes. Was this insult or insight? Some weren’t ready to see their heroine in quite such a new light.
Seven years later we are beginning to understand the genius of being open to change. Under Eilber’s direction, Graham’s art has not been crystallized for display; rather it remains fertile, relevant and ready to inspire Generation X, Y and Z.
Lloyd Mayor (Mesh) ;Martha Graham Dance Company; Photo: Hibbard Nash Photography

Eilber’s witty pre-performance introductions (in addition to being a principal Graham dancer, she's a Drama Desk nominee for her acting on Broadway) engage new and returning audiences with the stories behind those mythic ballets.Media partnerships allow online audiences to digitally interact with the company. Last year, contestants were challenged to create inner monologues to short video dances by principals Tadej Brdnik and Miki Orihara. Masters of the art introduce college and high school students to Graham’s repertory and the students even get to perform on the same stage as the company during its season. Under Eilber’s leadership the Martha Graham Dance Company re-mixes, re-evaluates and re-directs Graham ballets, examining the repertory through the varied lenses of psychologists, musicians, museum curators, theater directors, and new choreographers.
Maurizio Nardi, Samuel Pott, Ben Schultz and Jacqueline Bulnes in Bulareyaung Pagarlava's
Lamentation Variation; photo by Michele Ballantini

It is invigorating to see masterworks in a new light. Commissions such as the Lamentation Variations in which the company asks non-Graham dance makers for their choreographic responses to the iconic Graham Lamentation, refresh.A personal favorite is Lamentable the recently added Variation by the queen of postmodernism, Yvonne Rainer. Who would ever think that a founding Judson artist- a choreographer from rebellious 1960’s who rejected Graham's theatrics - would return to the classics for a chat? Her piece, a trio for two dancers and a paper shredder, (Eilber and Katherine Crockett are the dancers) is a spare, succinct and wry gem. It will be featured in Program C during Graham’s two week season at the Joyce, along with a world premiere Variation by Doug Varone, a completely different kind of artist, known for luscious musicality and humanity.

Tadej Brdnik, Lloyd Knight, Abdiel Jacobsen,and MaurizioNardi in Doug Varone's Lamentation Variation, Photo by Paula Kajzar
Throughout this season we will experience Martha Graham through the prism of Myth and Transformation. Her classic Greek themed masterpieces were in fact, transformed by the choreographer herself. She illuminated the heroine’s point of view in these ballets (so she could star in them.)
Martha Graham Dance Company ;Martha Graham's Cave of the Heart; Pictured: Blakeley White-McGuire; Photo: Costas
Cave of the Heart (the tale of Media and Jason) and Night Journey (the tale of Jocasta and Oedipus)will be presented along side a new, stripped away version of Errand Into The Maze (the tale of Ariadne and the Minotaur) and simply called Errand. The piece, performed without its original Noguchi sets, courtesy of Hurricane Sandy, will be re-imagined by, the renowned Italian ballet choreographer and opera director, Luca Veggetti, with the input of principal, Bessie Award Winning, Graham artist, Miki Orihara who has danced the ballet for many years during her long tenure with the Graham company.
Miki Orihara and Tadej Brdnik in Martha Graham's Errand Into the Maze; Photo by Costas

Instead of being shattered by the damage Hurricane Sandy wreaked on its sets, the company saw the crisis an opportunity to “design one of Graham’s ballets with a new look.”Eilber points out, that this kind of redirection happens in the ballet world all the time, but for 20th century contemporary dance its new. “(It’s wonderful) to have a modern classic that’s so recognizable, audiences will notice the change.”
For More Myth and Transformation, See the Martha Graham Dance Company at The Joyce Theater
Program Schedule: February 20–March 3, 2013

Program A
Wednesday, February 20 at 7:30pm; Saturday, February 23 at 8pm;
Sunday, February 24 at 2pm; Thursday, February 28 at 8pm;
Saturday, March 2 at 2pm; Sunday, March 3 at 7:30pm
Phaedra (Graham)
The Show (Achilles Heels) (Move)

Gala Performance
Thursday, February 21 at 7:30pm
“Moon” from The Canticle for Innocent Comedians (Graham)
The Show (Achilles Heels) with a special performance by Deborah Harry (Move)

Program B
Friday, February 22 at 8pm; Sunday, February 24 at 7:30pm; Saturday, March 2 at 8pm
The Errand into the Maze Project (Graham)
Cave of the Heart (Graham)
Night Journey (Graham)

University Partners Showcase
Saturday, February 23 at 2pm
Graham classics performed by university and high school students from around the nation

Fall and Recovery Benefit
Tuesday, February 26 at 7:30pm
Imperial Gesture (Graham)
From the Grammar of Dreams (Veggetti)
Excerpt from a new Nacho Duato work
Performances by guest artists Wendy Whelan, Michelle Dorrance, and David Neumann, among others
All-City Panorama / high school students perform Panorama (Graham)

Program C
Wednesday, February 27 at 7:30pm; Friday, March 1 at 8pm; Sunday, March 3 at 2pm
Cave of the Heart (Graham)
From the Grammar of Dreams (Veggetti)
Lamentation Variations (Pagarlava, Rainer, Varone)
Diversion of Angels (Graham)

Performances will take place at The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue (at 19th Street) in New York City. Tickets range from 0 to 9. Prices are subject to change. Tickets can be purchased by calling JOYCECHARGE at 212-242-0800, or online at

For more information about the Company’s Gala on Thursday, February 21, and the Fall and Recovery
Benefit on Tuesday, February 26, contact: Suzanne Flanagan at 212-229-9200 x 10,


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