By Walter Rutledge
The Martha Graham Dance Company will begin their 86thseason at the Joyce Theater on Tuesday March 13. The company will offer two programs, which will explore the physiological works of choreographer Martha Graham, under the title Inner Landscape. “I wanted to find a way to reveal the inner landscape – to chart a graph of the heart”, stated Graham. The season will run thru March 18 and will offer a total of seven performances at the Joyce Theater.
The Inner Landscape theme is the latest approach offered by the Martha Graham Dance Company to reacquaint and develop audiences to the genius of company founder Martha Graham. The 2010 Political Dance Project boldly illustrated the theme of political activism in dance. The success of that season in examining the convergence of dance and politics has lead to Inner Landscape as the focus for its 2012 season. Now we have an opportunity to see Graham in possibly her most defining choreographic milieu.
The project focuses on a theme that captured the imagination of America in the 1930s and 40s. Graham was particularly fascinated by Jungian psychology, and the revelation of the human condition in dramatic movement. Inner Landscape presents psychological repertory by Graham and other artists, and celebrates this innovative, provocative and revolutionary approach to dance making.
Program A will present Witch Dance, a seminal work by the German choreographer, and Graham contemporary Mary Wigman. Considered a pioneer of expressionist dance, Wigman’s work was hailed for bringing the deepest of the existential experiences to the stage. First choreographed in 1914 (and then revised in 1926) it was Wigman’s first solo work, which she performed; and later described as “a rhythmic intoxication”.
Every Soul is a Circus, choreographed by Graham will be presented in the season. This early satirical work has not been part of the company repertoire for over 25 years. The work premiered at the St James Theater in NYC, in December of 1939, and is one of Graham’s earliest physiological dances.
The Graham masterpiece Night Journey based on the tragedy of Oedipus and Jocasta will also be performed. The ballet features a set and props by artist/sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Night Journey is one more than twenty collaborations between Graham and Noguchi that span five decades.
The Lamentation Variations is a project started by the Martha Graham Dance Company in 2007; it is a tribute is to the victims of 9/11. Choreographers are invited to create a short work in their own style inspired by a film of Graham dancing her signature solo, Lamentation. This year renowned choreographers Lar Lubovitch and Yvonne Rainer will each create a Lamentation variation for the Company. They will join variations by Richard Move, Larry Keigwin, Aszure Barton, (all created in 2007), and by Bulareyaung Pagarlava (2009). A different combination of three variations will be performed on each program at the Joyce.
Program B will feature a solo from Anna Sokolow’s 1953 Lyric Suite. Sokolow began her career dancing in the Martha Graham Dance Company, and became a major 20th Century choreographer. Another Graham collaborator Louis Horst wrote about Lyric Suite in the Dance Observer (1954), “…it speaks in abstract and stark simplicity, translating the qualitative moods of the music into penetrating and evocative movement designs. Superbly choreographed and thoroughly integrated, its lyric beauty has a direct appeal to kinesthetic response”.
Graham’s 1944 classic Deaths and Entrances will also be performed. The work is based on the lives of the three Bronte sisters, and depicts the repressive, male dominated world of Victorian society. Graham’s Chronicle from 1936 and the Lamentation Variations complete the program.
Both programs will open with an abstract film montage created by former Graham dancer and noted dance-film artist Peter Sparling. The film combines excerpts of Graham dancing her psychological works with moments from psychological films of the same era. The montage reveals America’s fascination with the science of the mind and it’s infusion into the popular culture.
The performance schedule is:
PROGRAM A: March 13 at 7:30, March 16 at 8:00, and March 18 at 7:30: Witch Dance, Every Soul is a Circus, Lamentation Variations- Group A, and Night Journey
PROGRAM B: March 15 at 8:00, March 17 at 8:00, and March 18 at 2:00: Solo from Lyric Suite, Deaths and Entrance, Lamentation Variations- Group B and Chronicle
FAMILY MATINEE: March 17 at 2:00: All City Panorama, Every Soul is a Circus, Other rep TBA
In addition to the Joyce Theater performances there will be a special gala performance on Wednesday March 14 at New York City Center (131 West 55 Street between 6th and 7th Avenues). This one night only performance will include international dance stars Diana Vishneva and Fang-yi Sheu, and feature members of the Graham Company in the most famous duet from Appalachian Spring, Errand into the Maze with internationally renowned ballerina Vishneva, and Chronicle with the great Graham dancer Sheu. Diversion of Angels will also be performed. A gala dinner will take place at the Russian Tea Room following the performance.
Tickets for the gala and dinner are available by contacting Suzanne Flanagan at email@example.com. Tickets for the gala performance only range from $45 to $90 and are available through the City Center box office or by contacting CITYTIX at 212 581-1212 or on the web at nycitycenter.org. Ticket prices for the Joyce Theater season are: $19, $35 and $59 (Prices subject to change based on demand) and can be purchased through JoyceCharge (212) 242-0800 and www.joyce.org.
In Photo: 1) Diana Vishneva 2) Miki Orihara, Katherine Crockett, and Mariya Mashkina Maddux 3) Lloyd Knight and company 4) PeiJu Chien-Pott 5) Diana Vishneva 6) Fang-yi Sheu
Photos by: 1 & 5) Nikolay Krusser. 2,3,4) Costos 6) B Joshua Lin