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Impressions of Martha Graham Opening Night - Jennifer H.

By Jennifer H.

Published on September 18, 2007

Name: Jennifer H.

Job: Project Manager at a global transport company
Last time you moved: I worked out a few of times this week.

Complete this sentence, I dance ... at home with my kids, at parties with my hubby and when I hear music that I love.

Do you have a favorite dance company? or favorite dance? I enjoy watching all sorts of dancing, from ballet to tango to street dancing. But generally it is most physically demanding dances that really grip me. I am awed by what some dancers can get their bodies to do. The "Embattled Garden" at the Martha Graham show was amazing.

Have you ever seen The Martha Graham Dance Company before? I have never seen this company before.

Now to the evening.... after each category what pops into your head about the following dances?

Lamentation Variations-

1. Who were the people in the three dances? ( duet was first, solo, and group piece)
I am not sure for the first two to be honest. Though I wonder if the duet was supposed to be two sides of the same person, since they looked alike and moved largely - but not always - in unison. If I were to guess, I'd say these were all people experiencing 9/11 -- either as victims or spectators. All seemed under stress. I would guess the group piece was supposed to be the people trapped in the towers. They were all dressed in dark or corporate attire.

2. Where were they? Either in the towers or watching the event.

3. What images do you remember? Do any particular shapes or gestures stand out in your memory? Describe...

Tongues in cheeks and their matching black dresses with 'tears" all around the waist (duet). Blond fly-away hair and dramatic, distressed face (solo). Repeatedly tapping fingertips together nervously (group dance). People crouched down clutching another's legs (group).

4. Do you remember any sensations you experienced being in the audience?

Intrigued. Surprised by some of the facial expressions. Concerned. Sad.

Embattled Garden-

The stranger frozen upside down (!!) at the start ...and his amazing leaps in the air. The snake slapping her red fan in the air and under her legs. Adam and Eve in their strange "garden" of sticks. Watching this dance I felt frustrated because over and over again Adam and Eve could not resist temptation and the stranger/snake would not leave them alone. I was very struck by the athleticism of this dance. It appeared to be very physically demanding. What extraordinary dancers.

Night Journey

The group of dancers in black with one pink dancer. They danced beautifully together. And I loved the crowns coming out of the buns in their hair. Queen Jacoste's emotive face and tiny, nimble body. Oedipus' powerful leaps and lifts. The boom when the clairvoyant thumped his walking stick ... and his high athletic jumps behind it.


If you had the opportunity to sit in my living room and ask the dancers, rehearsal director, choreographers ( even Martha Graham),or current artistic director questions...
what would you ask?

I would love to learn more about Lamentation Variations. Who the dancers represented, where they were, what they were going through.

What do you think you will always remember about this performance ?

Lamentation Variations. I found these three very short dances very moving and very unusual and interesting and on a compelling topic. I loved the costumes in this trio of dances.

I was also struck by how much facial expressions were used in every performance of the evening. These dancers used their faces so much - to show grief, malice, despair - they were actors as well as dancers.

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