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PHOTO IMPRESSIONS: Portraits of The Martha Graham Dance Company's Post-Covid Season at The Joyce Theater

PHOTO IMPRESSIONS: Portraits of The Martha Graham Dance Company's Post-Covid Season at The Joyce Theater
Serena S.Y. Hsu

By Serena S.Y. Hsu
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Published on January 11, 2022
Serena S.Y. Hsu

Works by Martha Graham, Andrea Miller, Elisa Monte, and Sir Robert Cohan Explore the Metaphysical Nature of Human Relations


This past October at The Joyce Theater, the Martha Graham Dance Company presented six brilliant, nuanced pieces, as part of  their 2021 return to the stage post-COVID. Thoughtfully selected, the works centered upon the themes of human relations and the power of memory.



Whether portrayed as sweeping calligraphic movements, like brushstrokes across the stage...

sweat glistening male bodies, surround a female all in white symbolizing pure love

Martha Graham dancer Natasha M. Diamond-Walker (ctr) performs DIVERSION OF ANGELS. Male dancers (l-r) are Jacob Larsen, Alessio Crognale, Richard Villaverde, Lloyd Knight. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

4 women dressed in rust colored gowns leap into the air their left legs extended their right legs pointing downwards. The expression here is of pure joy

Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Leslie Andrea Williams, Anne O'Donnell, Devin Loh, and Laurel Dalley Smith perform DIVERSION OF ANGELS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

Three women facing profile, lean backwards kicking their legs high into the air. The reach to the sky.

Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Leslie Andrea Williams, Anne O'Donnell, and Devin Loh perform DIVERSION OF ANGELS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

Or as the enigmatic, symbiotic nature of passionate love and sensuality...
 

a shirtless, muscular Black man peers ahead, one leg in a high extension to the side as he stands over a young woman sitting with her legs spread in a wide bent second position... She leans her body and head to one side closing her eyes as if lost in thought

Martha Graham dancers Marzia Memoli (f) and Lloyd Knight (b) perform TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

in a totally black surrounding  a woman in a a unitard that completely matches her skin tone, making her seem nude, looks out at the audience as she stand over a man lying on the floor his arms stretched out horizontally

5: Martha Graham dancers Marzia Memoli (above) and Lloyd Knight (below) perform TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

… the Martha Graham Dance Company reveals relational mystery.



APPALACHIAN SPRING and DIVERSION OF ANGELS are classic Martha Graham ‒ collective assemblages symbolizing youthful love, spiritual love, mature love, and love re-imagined or changed by the patina of memory. Darkness is the unifying element of SCAVENGERS and TREADING; and soliloquy the point of view for the works IMMEDIATE TRAGEDY and JACOB.


APPALACHIAN SPRING (1944)  focuses on a  young pioneer couple creating their new life . The minimalist set  by Isamu Noguchi (1943)  denotes both a plow and chair as well as the facade for the house which the young couple calls home.

 

the bride in ruffled purple, her leg bent and lifted behind her is held round her waist by the husbandman dressed in a white top and old fashioned bowtie a tan vest and dark rust pants...he gazes outward as if seeing their future together

APPALACHIAN SPRING  Choreography  by Martha Graham (1944). Music  by Aaron Copland. SPictured are Anne O'Donnell (f) and Lloyd Mayor (b). | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the young woman in purple and the husbandman link arms and twirl around one another gazing ecstatically up into the sky arms and legs reaching to a high diagonal

Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Anne O'Donnell and Lloyd Mayor perform APPALACHIAN SPRING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the husbandman flings his future bride into the air. the couple are in profile.  Her upper body appears to be resting on his chest as she soars upward above the ground

Anne O'Donnell (above) , the Bride and Lloyd Mayor (below) the Husbandman in APPALACHIAN SPRING | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

The couples marriage is set by the solemnity and evangelism of the Preacher , as well as the steady and poised nature of the Pioneering Woman. Stark outlines foreshadow binding toil and labor in the working of land and fields.
 

the four followers sit against the white wall of the house set, seated erect with hands clasped identically in prayer, the bride knees on the floor and lift her palm towards the  husbandman who leans forward in an arabesque to meet her palm

Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Lloyd Mayor and Anne O'Donnell perform APPALACHIAN SPRING | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the preacher in the center clasps his hands together solemenly looking outwards as his followers dressed in tiered gowns of blue with ruffled white sleeves and dainty blue and white caps, gaze up at him adoringly, behind this scene stands the pioneer woman, a long burgundy gown, looking rooted, wise, and constant

Lloyd Knight (ctr) as the Preacher is encircled by the Followers (l-r) Kate Reyes, Marzia Memoli, Anne Souder, and So Young An with Leslie Andrea Williams (bcg-r) as the Pioneering Woman. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press
 

The Pioneer woman stands steadily on one leg as if looking out on the plains, the followers lay at her feet in profile facing the ground.

 Leslie Andrea Williams (ctr) dances The Pioneering Woman. The alignment of The Followers (l-r) ‒ So Young An, Kate Reyes, Marzia Memoli, and Anne Souder ‒ portray kinship to the earth. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

Faith is a fulcrum between times of abundance and times of scarcity.

 

The preacher lies, arms outstretched on top of two of the followers as the other two, kneeling, hold his hands in devotion, the Bride and the Pioneer woman, sit on a bench in front of the house whispering.

Lloyd Knight (ctr) as The Preacher is supported by The Followers (l-r) Anne Souder, Marzia Memoli, Kate Reyes, So Young An. At backstage left are (l-r) The Bride, Anne O'Donnell, and The Pioneering Woman, Leslie Andrea Williams. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press
 

But joy abides.
 

The husbandman and wife, twirl around one another, with their elbows interlocking and legs raised in joy.

 Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Lloyd Mayor and Anne O'Donnell perform APPALACHIAN SPRING. At background-l is Graham dancer Lloyd Knight. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press
 

The Bride's arms continually raise upward, perhaps preparing for the harvest to be gathered, perhaps to ready for  cradling  a newborn, or maybe to simply embrace whatever lies ahead.
 

The wife kicks her leg joyfully in the air reaching upward hopefully

Anne O'Donnell dances The Bride in Martha Graham’s APPALACHIAN SPRING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

The bride lifts her solar plexus and arms upward as she runs foward. Her ruffled skirt sweeps up and out following her line of energy

 Anne O'Donnell dances The Bride in Martha Graham’s APPALACHIAN SPRING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press


The bevy of Followers frolic like spring lambs.
 

the Followers are gleefully suspended in mid air

Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Marzia Memoli, Kate Reyes, Anne Souder, and So Young An perform APPALACHIAN SPRING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press


The Husbandman leaps between the thin framework of a new foundation-in-the-making.
 

The Husband man leaps forward purposefully as if on a mission, and is suspended in mid-air

Lloyd Mayor dances The Husbandman in Martha Graham’s APPALACHIAN SPRING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

The bride sits quietly and introspectively as her Husband man dances in front of her, possibly discussing in choreography his plans for their new life. Here he jumps as if in the midst of a huge jumping jack.

Lloyd Mayor dances The Husbandman in Martha Graham’s APPALACHIAN SPRING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

Innocence is the beginning; strength finalizes love’s commitment.

 

The couple begin their new life.

Anne O'Donnell (f), The Bride, and Lloyd Mayor (b), The Husbandman, together in APPALACHIAN SPRING’s finale. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press



Andrea Miller’s world premiere, SCAVENGERS offers a stark contrast to the bright optimism of APPALACHIAN SPRING. Miller’s self-contained duets for four couples conclude with the  appearance of a solitary dancer. All  are cloaked in darkness.
 

cloaked in darkness a black woman in an orange dress is swept up by a man of color. She is in profile looking up at him, her legs revealed as her dress swings to the back of her, We can only see the man's face and that he is wearing a dark shirt

Martha Graham dancers Leslie Andrea Williams (f) and Alessio Crognale (b) perform Andrea Miller's world premiere SCAVENGERS at The Joyce Theater, October 26, 2021. Music is by Will Epstein. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

The woman in the orange dress stands in a wide plie as the man dresed in maroon desperateily clings to her.She seems serene and strong.

 Martha Graham dancers Alessio Crognale (f) and Leslie Andrea Williams (b) perform the first pas de deux of Andrea Miller’s SCAVENGERS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

The man in maroon swings his upper body to the leftand his partner swings her body to the right as he carries her. She appears to be gliding.

 Martha Graham dancers Leslie Andrea Williams (f) and Alessio Crognale (b) perform SCAVENGERS’ first pas de deux. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press


 Miller says, “When thinking about the way that we look for tenderness and intimacy, and when I see people start to come out into the street at night, it reminds me of this search to fill yourself and feed yourself with connection. Even if for a moment on the dance floor with a stranger.”

 

a woman in green satin dress with long blonde hair, wraps her legs around her olive suited partner as he carries her. He stands in a lunge and though her chest faces away from him she twists her upper body so she can look into his eyes.

Martha Graham dancers Marzia Memoli (f) and Jacob Larsen (b) perform Andrea Miller’s SCAVENGERS’ world premiere SCAVENGERS at The Joyce Theater, October 26, 2021. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

The blonde woman is being carried on the back of her olive-suited partner. Her dress has slide up revealing brown satin underwear. We notice her suited partner is shirtless.

Martha Graham dancers Marzia Memoli (above)and Jacob Larsen (below) perform SCAVENGERS’ second pas de deux. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press


Elements of codependency, passion, letting go,  and clinging, evoke the ambivalence of love.

 

the olive suited partner man with brown hair grabs the upper torso of his female partner in front of him. Her blonde her swings to the left almost perpendicular to the floor.For the first time we notic she has a yellow belt.

Martha Graham dancers Marzia Memoli (f) and Jacob Larsen (b) perform the second pas de deux of SCAVENGERS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

 

a white man with brown hair leans into a lunge facing his female partner, her legs are wrapped around his bent leg and she grabs his hand and peers into his eyes. Both look at one another lovingly.

Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Marzia Memoli and Jacob Larsen perform SCAVENGERS’ second pas de deux. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press


Miller explains how she processes her choreography. “I was following the energy and the intimacy that was emerging from the dancers as we worked. I was listening to their touch, their eye contact, their distance and closeness, and recalling my own relationship to intimacy.”

 

a woman wearing a blue satin long sleeve dress demonstrates a beautiful arabesque as she looks down at her male partner. He is in a low lunge holding on to the knee of her standing leg quite tenderely.

Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Lloyd Mayor and Anne O'Donnell perform Andrea Miller's world premiere SCAVENGERS at The Joyce Theater, October 26, 2021. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the woman in blue rides on the back of her partner looking upwards past her extended bent elbow..The man faces the opposite direction looking downward to the floor.

Martha Graham dancers Anne O'Donnell (above) and Lloyd Mayor (below) perform SCAVENGERS’ third pas de deux. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

The man in a brown shirt and brown pants hoists his femal partner into the air. He carries her on his hip moving towards the right. She, leaning into his hip extends her legs behind her as her body and arms reach backward towards her feet.

Martha Graham dancers Anne O'Donnell (above) and Lloyd Mayor (below) perform SCAVENGERS’ third pas de deux. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

Here a couple’s tenderness and support of one another switches roles, expressing the mutuality of love.

 

a black man dressed in a black suit bends down in a wide plie, he cradles the torso of his partner, a fair brunette in a red slik dress. the two look at eachother tenderly. she grabs the back of his neck with her left palm

Martha Graham dancers Laurel Dalley Smith (f) and Lloyd Knight (b) perform Andrea Miller's world premiere SCAVENGERS at The Joyce Theater, October 26, 2021. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the fair brunette in red, her knees bent forward, crades the head of her partner. His head is embraced by her arm and leans on her knee. His jacket falls away from his nude chest, his feet are on the ground, kness bent. his body is perpendicular to the floor

Martha Graham dancers Lloyd Knight (f) and Laurel Dalley Smith (b) perform in the fourth pas de deux of SCAVENGERS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

Alternately, the push-pull tenuousness of each couple implies the malleability of a relationship and how memory (as the sole figure at the end) is its residual effect.

 

the woman in red lies across her partners chest and looks out to the audience. One leg is extended in the air, towards the audience, the other is extended in front of her with her knee bent.
rokenness is mirrored by Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Laurel Dalley Smith and Lloyd Knight in SCAVENGERS’ fourth pas de deux. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu /
The womans dress under the light now seems more hot pink.She rests her haid on the shoulder of her partner, twisting towards him. He clutches her under arm and gazes deeply and tenderly at her profile.

Martha Graham dancers Laurel Dalley Smith (f) and Lloyd Knight (b) perform SCAVENGERS’ fourth pas de deux. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the women dressed in hot pink/red is on the floor in the midst of a backward summer sault. Her toes reach toward her partners bent knee. Her partner, the man in the black jacket and pants lunges to the right arching his upper body away from his bent lleg. His elbows are bent in front of him and his hands are splayed , fingers extending outward, above his face.

Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Lloyd Knight and Laurel Dalley Smith perform SCAVENGERS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the woman lunges forward. her position is low as if in a partial split.her arm extending to the back touces her partner behind her. Now in the light his clothes appear blue. He arches back wards as hhis knees move forward.

Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Lloyd Knight and Laurel Dalley Smith perform SCAVENGERS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

The woman's feet graze the floor as her partner lifts her up leaning her against his chest. They both face frotn but he looks directily upward while she casts her eyes upward on an angle.

: Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Laurel Dalley Smith and Lloyd Knight portray reconciliation in SCAVENGERS’ fourth pas de deux. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

Says Miller, “I think the duets give meaning to the solo and the solo to the duets, like negative and positive space in a sculpture.”

 

a solo female figure reaches out in the darkness.

Martha Graham dancer Anne Souder performs an ending solo for Andrea Miller's SCAVENGERS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press


Similarly, memory is suspended between what has actually transpired; scavenged by what we choose to remember; and shaped by the positives and negatives of that relationship.

 

the solo woman dressed in brown assumes a yoga wheel position as part of her dance.her lige and upper body are lit, as well as her face and fingers. She almos looks like a spider.

Martha Graham dancer Anne Souder performs SCAVENGERS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

The solo dancer's knee peeks out from her brown satin dress as her body arches away from it. she is fimly planted in the ground one arm extends up ward the other is relaxed dowards the floor. Her eyes are closed.

Martha Graham dancer Anne Souder performs SCAVENGERS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

The solo dancer is in profile, body perpendicular to the floor,knees bent, the dance peers reflectively downward as. her elbows are bent forward, her fingers reach toward her center.

The collection of memories is portrayed by Martha Graham dancer Anne Souder in the final moments of SCAVENGERS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press


Whereas SCAVENGERS imparts a dark, multi-linear imagery of couples caught up in their isolated relationships, TREADING‘s darkness encompasses nature’s  universality. TREADING (1979), choreographed by Elisa Monte, invites viewers to dive into the sea of human sensuality as spirit and nature coalesce.


Coral colors effloresce from the darkness.
 

A black man poses as a crow, standing on the balls of his feet, knees bent in a low plie,arms outstretched and hands flexed ..it is so dark we cannot tell as yet what he is wearing. He is bare chested

Martha Graham dancer Lloyd Knight performs choreographer Elise Monte’s TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

 

The dark skinned man bends his legs in a large horizontal knee bend, one hand reachers forward as if to say stop the other arm and hand reaches down between his legs. Beihind him is a light skinned woman seated.

Martha Graham dancers Lloyd Knight (f) and Marzia Memoli (b) perform TREADING at The Joyce Theater, on October 27, 2021. Choreography is by Elisa Monte (1979). Music is by Steve Reich. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

 

We can tell know the man is wearing a unitard which could be a rust or coral color. Hestands with legs apart in a wide v shape and tilts his waist and arms to his right. The light skinned woman seated on the floor behind him mimics his amr movements.

Martha Graham dancers Lloyd Knight (f) and Marzia Memoli (b) perform TREADING‘s pas de deux. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

alone in the dark the black man in the rust or coral unitard knees with his kness facing forward. he leans to his left with his arms outstretched and his eyes closed.

Martha Graham dancer Lloyd Knight performs TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press


Sheer feats of physicality are weighed by the largo abstraction of Steve Reich’s score. Graham dancers, Marzia Memoli and Lloyd Knight ,create breathtakingly beautiful movement through gravity-defying and strenuous formations.

 

He lies on hs back kness over his hips supporting her hips on his lower legs and holding her hands... they look at one another.

Martha Graham dancers Marzia Memoli (above) and Lloyd Knight (below) perform TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

he extends his legs up to 90 degrees creating a right angle with his body on the floor. his hands, also at a right angle support her lower back as she arches backward with her feet in the air.

Martha Graham dancers Marzia Memoli (above) and Lloyd Knight (below) perform TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press


Contraction and extension play on the metamorphic qualities of anemones, mollusks, and nudibranchs.

another intricate balance where he usese his thighs  and feet to support her hovering in the air above him.

Martha Graham dancers Marzia Memoli (above) and Lloyd Knight (below) perform TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

now with only his upper back on the ground and everything else extended upwards the male black dancer uses only his feet to support his light skinned female partner. his feet balance her at her stomach she looks like an upside down letter v hovering over him.

Martha Graham dancers Marzia Memoli (above) and Lloyd Knight (below) perform TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the dark skinned man is seated on the floor, his light skinned feaml partner is kneeling directly across from him, The hold hands and pull away from eachother. Their eyes are closed as if in deepmeditation or ecstasy.

 Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Lloyd Knight and Marzia Memoli perform TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the female dancer in a gorgeous arabesque, her standing leg is bent

 Martha Graham dancer Marzia Memoli performs TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the female dancer shortens her original arabesque position bending both legs and leaning towards the audience, eyes closed

Martha Graham dancer Marzia Memoli performs TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

Sustained with gorgeous lines and intriguing composition, the dancers’ aquatic grace and flawless musicality belie the inhuman strength required for TREADING’s performance.

 

the female dancer stand on top of her partners legs. his legs are in a wide bent horizontal position. Their arm positions mirror eachother their left arms are bent and their right arms are straight and extended out to their right. Their gaze follows their right arm

Martha Graham dancer Lloyd Knight (below) continually transports Marzia Memoli (above) in TREADING's pas de deux. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the woman standing atop her partners legs opens her left arm to her front (our right side) and her partner continuing to support her mirrors herarm position.

Martha Graham dancers Marzia Memoli (above) and Lloyd Knight (below) echo each other’s gestural movements in TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the man hovers over his partner in a plank position. She underneath him,grabs hold of his back with her arms and of his lower leg with her legs. her torso contracts creating a curve and she hovers slightly above the ground.

Martha Graham dancers Lloyd Knight (above) and Marzia Memoli (below) perform TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the female huddles over her male partner leaning on his back with her front body as he curves into a childs pose.

Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Marzia Memoli and Lloyd Knight perform TREADING. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press


JACOB from Afternoon Conversations with Dancers (2021), was created by Sir Robert Cohan during the pandemic, just before he died of cancer.  Cohan was a principal dance partner to  Graham  (1946-57) and a co-director of the Martha Graham Dance Company (1962-67).

a fair skinned man with black hair twists his upper body and leans to his left , showing us his profile. He grasps his hands above his head, and his hips for the most part face us. his right leg is straignt the left is bent in front of it. He wears brown trouses and a white sleevless t shirt.
Martha Graham dancer Jacob Larsen performs JACOB at The Joyce Theater, October 27, 2021. Choreography is by Sir Robert Cohan (May 2021). Music is by Nils Frahm. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

 

the man lunges toward the ground leaning right and looking upwards arms outstreched.

Martha Graham dancer Jacob Larsen performs the solo JACOB, choreographed by Sir Robert Cohan. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the dancer in another crouched positing leaning to his left supported by his left arm and both legs... his arm muscles and the muscles of his neck are prominent

Martha Graham dancer Jacob Larsen performs the solo JACOB, choreographed by Sir Robert Cohan. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the dancer in another lunge leans left right leg stretched behind him left arm reach down in front of him. intense is the mood..

Martha Graham dancer Jacob Larsen performs the solo JACOB, choreographed by Sir Robert Cohan. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

as he bends in to almost a kneel, the dancer gazes upward, his torso contracts downward  and to the back

Martha Graham dancer Jacob Larsen performs the solo JACOB, choreographed by Sir Robert Cohan. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

JACOB reads very much like a memoir to a character intimately remembered through the eyes of a brother, a sister,  or perhaps a significant other.



IMMEDIATE TRAGEDY (1937) was Martha Graham’s  protest against war and fascism during Francisco Franco’s brutal rise to power. Fists are raised and the back arches under oppression, entrenched by the memories of those lost to this Spanish war.

 

Black, red, and white are the flagpoles of this struggle with the Graham contraction and release of movement as human nature's instinct for freedom.

 

a female dancer in a white top with a flowing red and black skirt and a red rose in her black bun, leans her body parallel to the floor and kicks one  leg up to the ceiling .

Soloist Xin Ying performs IMMEDIATE TRAGEDY at The Joyce Theater, October 26, 2021. Martha Graham choreographed IMMEDIATE TRAGEDY (1937) with music by Henry Cowell. Dance adaptations are by Janet Eilber / Neil Baldwin with music adaptation by Christopher Rountree. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Pres

the dancers angles are apparent. The angle of her bent knees on the floor, theright angle of her left arm bent as if she will use her hand to hammer something.

 Martha Graham dancer Xin Ying performs IMMEDIATE TRAGEDY. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Pres



Liberty is depicted as the birth of idealism and the indomitable rebounding over death in humanity’s consciousness.

 

a dancer with a white shirt and a flowing black and red skirt pitches her body foward as one leg and both arms trail upward behind her. Her hands are made into fists.

 Martha Graham dancer Xin Ying performs IMMEDIATE TRAGEDY. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press


Finally, each of Graham’s  Joyce Theater performances included the iconic DIVERSION OF ANGELS (1948). This masterpiece attests to Martha Graham's supremacy in staging.

The Achilles' heel of some current  dance is that not enough thought has been given to the relationship of the" foreground" and "background" dancers. This oftentimes leads  to a murky jumble of limbs from the point of view of a seated audience. But this was never so with the titans of dance ‒ Graham, Balanchine, Tudor ‒ are singular in their ability to implement the corps to establish powerful dramatic connections.

the woman in white stands still and solemn as a chorus of women with large buns dance around her

Soloist Natasha M. Diamond-Walker (ctr) and chorus dancers (l-r) Laurel Dalley Smith, Devin Loh, Anne O'Donnell, and Leslie Andrea Williams perform at The Joyce Theater, October 26, 2021. Choreography is by Martha Graham (1948). Music is by Norman Dello Joio. Depicted is the transition from a soloist pas de deux to a group dance. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the woman in white, mature love, leans into a long arabesque facingthe left of the stage..her lover lies on his side on the floor arching , reaching and gazing towards her

Martha Graham soloists Alessio Crognale (f) and Natasha M. Diamond-Walker (b) dance the opening pas de deux for DIVERSION OF ANGELS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the woman in white grabs her lovers spread arms as he arches backward from his knees in a moment of passion. his head appears to be leaning on her stomach

 Martha Graham soloists (l-r) Natasha M. Diamond-Walker and Alessio Crognale dance a pas de deux in DIVERSION OF ANGELS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

a chorus of shirtless men kneel around the woman in white with arms stretched towards her. her body leans slightly and is supported by one of the men.

 Martha Graham dancers (l-r) Lloyd Knight, Alessio Crognale, Jacob Larsen, and Richard Villaverde encircle soloist Natasha M. Diamond-Walker in the thematic DIVERSION OF ANGELS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

The Graham corps de ballet, referred to as the chorus, consistently reaches  operatic scale. Upturned palms, raised elbows and arms form the divertissement of prayer and the arcs of angel wings.

a chorus of three men and three women in shades of red-brown. the women stand with one arm lifted into the air and the other arm bent its hand cupped on one hip... The men balance on one knee and their forearm as their left leg extend into the air.

At foreground (l-r) Richard Villaverde, Lloyd Knight, and Jacob Larsen perform DIVERSION OF ANGELS. At background (l-r) are Laurel Dalley Smith, Devin Loh, and Leslie Andrea Williams. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the men kick their legs to the side and up high as the women kneel creating angles with their upturned elbows

At foreground (l-r) Anne O'Donnell and Laurel Dalley Smith perform DIVERSION OF ANGELS. At background (l-r) are Jacob Larsen, Alessio Crognale, and Lloyd Knight. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the men and women kick side mirroring each other joyfully

Martha Graham dancers (l-r) are paired in DIVERSION OF ANGELS  ‒  Devin Loh / Jacob Larsen, Anne O'Donnell / Alessio Crognale, and Laurel Dalley Smith / Lloyd Knight. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

Martha Graham, as choreographer, specified  the woman in  white as mature love...

 

the woman in white in a beautiful deep arabesque with her supporting leg in plie. She looks serene.

Martha Graham dancer Natasha M. Diamond-Walker performs DIVERSION OF ANGELS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

 red as passionate love,

The woman in red pitches her body to the left side, kicking her right leg on a high right diagonal. Behind her her lover reaches upward almost touching her extend hand

 Martha Graham dancer Richard Villaverde (b), currently pictured with So Young An (f), switches between two partners in DIVERSION OF ANGELS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

and yellow as flirtatious, adolescent love.

 

the woman in yellow poses saucily in front of a man who imitates her position. Her hair flies wildly behinder her

Martha Graham dancer Richard Villaverde (b), currently pictured with Marzia Memoli (f), switches between two partners in DIVERSION OF ANGELS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the smiling woman in yellow floats in mid air as the result of a huge jump with a double back kick.

 Martha Graham dancer Marzia Memoli performs DIVERSION OF ANGELS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the woman in yellow floats above her partner as he holds her waist with his extended arms. She appears to be laughing. Her hair swings with her

 Martha Graham dancers Marzia Memoli (above) and Richard Villaverde (below) perform DIVERSION OF ANGELS. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

In the classic Graham tradition, male partners switch between chorus and lead with the female as their center point.

the woman in white travels away from the woman in yellow and her male followers

Mature Love (White), danced by Natasha M. Diamond-Walker (f-ctr), is counterbalanced by Juvenile Love (Yellow), danced by Marzia Memoli (b-ctr) in Martha Graham’s DIVERSION OF ANGELS. Male dancers (l-r) are Lloyd Knight and Richard Villaverde. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

a chorus of high kicking women surround red love who is supported by her male partner on his knees

At center, soloist So Young An (r) is partnered with Lloyd Knight (l) in Martha Graham’s DIVERSION OF ANGELS. At foreground l-r are chorus members Anne O'Donnell, Laurel Dalley Smith, and Devin Loh with chorus member Leslie Andrea Williams at background-r. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

the woman in white and the woman in red dance in the background as the chorus converses with eachother through movement

 Graham’s staging interplays a unique central triad with dancers (l-r) Richard Villaverde. So Young An. and Jacob Larsen.  Young Ann’s face and arms create a butterfly symmetry framed by Villaverde and Larson. The two men’s slide-stepping positions are echoed by background soloist Natasha M. Diamond-Walker. The final counterbalance is Alessio Crognale (far l) and Lloyd Knight (far r). | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press

two women of the chorus balance on one leg with their arms extending upward while a trio of men jump into the air with their right leg extended to the side. to the front of that action a man makes a wide stance his torso perfectly straight and his eyes gazing upward in thought.

Martha Graham Dance Company performs Diversion of Angels. At foreground is Alessio Crognale; middle ground (l-r) are Richard Villaverde, Lloyd Knight, and Jacob Larsen; and at background (l-r) are Devin Loh and Leslie Andrea Williams. | Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu / ZUMA Press


DIVERSION OF ANGELS , Graham's enduring signature dance.


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