By Walter Rutledge
On April 18, 1926 Martha Graham debuted her first independent concert at the 48th Street Theatre. The concert consisted of eighteen short solos and trios all choreographed by Graham. The 87th season of the world’s senior contemporary dance company Myth and Transformation begins Wednesday, February 20th. The company will present 15 performances through Sunday, March 13th at the Joyce Theater.
The season will consist of three different programs featuring choreography by Martha Graham, Richard Move, Luca Veggetti, and Doug Varone. Each thematic program explores artists reinventing iconic stories to make powerful and thought-provoking contemporary dance statements. The company will offer to the public eight Graham masterworks ranging from a solo from 1935 to an ensemble dance epic from 1962.
Program A includes a new production of Graham’s erotic 1962 masterwork Phaedra. The work features a commissioned score by Robert Starer and sculptural decor by Graham’s longtime collaborator renowned Japanese sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Phaedra is Graham’s personal interpretation on the classic tragedy of illicit love. The work created a sensation when it premiered and was almost banned from touring internationally when denounced by members of the United States Congress for its perceived overt sexuality.
The Show (Achilles Heels) choreographed, and directed by Richard Move completes the program. The Show is Move’s contemporary rendition of the Greek legend of Achilles, the warrior hero of Homer’s Iliad. Originally commissioned by the White Oak Dance Project the work features an original score by Arto Lindsay with songs by Deborah Harry and Blondie and includes scenic art by Nicole Eisenman.
For Graham purists Program B is an All-Graham program featuring three of Graham’s most acclaimed Greek-themed inspired works, Cave of the Heart (1946), Night Journey (1947), and The Errand into the Maze Project, a new production of Errand into the Maze (1947). Cave of the Heart, inspired by the story of Medea, is a startling look at the destructive power of love. Night Journey is Graham’s reworking of the Oedipus tale told through the eyes of his mother and wife, Jocasta. Both works integrate set pieces by Noguchi and costumes by Graham.
Errand into the Maze is loosely based on the Greek myth of Theseus and is set to a score by Gian Carlo Menotti. The Errand into the Maze Project is a new arrangement, directed by Luca Veggetti with Graham principal dancer Miki Orihara. The new production is performed without the classic sets and costume, which were damaged during Hurricane Sandy. This reworking will present the Graham choreography in a fresh new light.
Program C presents Luca Veggetti’s From the Grammar of Dreams, created specifically for the Graham Company and Myth and Transformation season. It is set to a score of the same name by celebrated Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, scored for two unaccompanied soprano voices on a series of texts by American poet Sylvia Plath. Also featured on this program is the New York première of a new Lamentation Variation by Doug Varone. The quartet for four men is set to Ravel’s 1908 Gaspard de la Nuit, the music is based on a poem by Aloysius Bertrand. Postmodernist Yvonne Rainer (2012) and Taiwanese choreographer Bulareyaung Pagarlava (2009) works will also be performed.
On Tuesday February 26 the company will hold a special performance; the Fall and Recovery Benefit, which will raise funds to assist in covering damages sustained during Hurricane Sandy. The storm surge caused by the hurricane flooded the basement of the Graham Company’s West Village studios; as a result many of the company’s irreplaceable sets, costumes and technical equipment were damaged. The dance community rallied behind the company donating needed items to assist the company complete the 2012/2013 season.
This special program will feature one-night-only special performances, including a preview excerpt from a work-in-process by Nacho Duato. Commissioned for the Graham Company by the Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina, the work will have its official world première in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on April 26, 2013. Imperial Gesture, an extraordinary solo from 1935 staged for the first time in nearly 70 years will be performed, as will the world première of Luca Veggetti’s From the Grammar of Dreams. The evening will also feature notables from the world of dance including Wendy Whelan, Michelle Dorrance, David Neumann, Irina Dvorovenko and Francesca Harper. The program will conclude with Graham’s groundbreaking 1935 work Panorama, performed by the fourth annual All-City Panorama project, showcasing 36 high school students from the metropolitan area dance.
For more information and a complete schedule of performances visit www.joyce.org.
In Photo: Martha Graham
Barbara Morgan photographer
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