Martha Graham Dance Company at Joyce
The Martha Graham Dance Company will present 15 performances at The Joyce Theater between February 20 and March 3, 2013. The season continues the company’s innovative thematic presentations with Myth and Transformation—three compelling programs that explore how artists reinvent iconic stories to make bold contemporary statements.
The two-week season features Graham masterworks including Phaedra, Cave of the Heart, Night Journey, Errand into the Maze and Diversion of Angels, alongside new commissions and premieres from Richard Move, Luca Veggetti and Doug Varone. A reconstruction of a Graham solo, Imperial Gesture (1935), will also be presented. Performances will take place Wednesday, February 20 to Sunday, February 24; and Tuesday, February 26 to Sunday, March 3.
Program A will feature a revival of Graham’s erotic 1962 work Phaedra, with a commissioned score by Robert Starer and sculptural decor by Isamu Noguchi, Graham’s longtime collaborator. It is the first performance of the work in a decade. Graham’s personal take on the classic tragedy about illicit love, Phaedra created a sensation when it premiered in the 1960s and was almost banned from touring internationally when it was denounced by some members of Congress for its overt sexuality.
Phaedra is paired with the season’s centerpiece, The Show (Achilles Heels), a dance-theater work created, choreographed and directed by Richard Move, and originally commissioned by the White Oak Dance Project in 2002. The Show… is Move’s strikingly contemporary interpretation of the Greek legend of Achilles, the electrifying hero of Homer’s Iliad. Combining dance, text, and pop culture references from Hollywood glamour to reality TV, The Show… brings into dramatic focus the story’s timeless themes of war, honor, love, vengeance, fame and glory. The Show… features an original score by Arto Lindsay with songs by Deborah Harry and Blondie, and scenic art by painter Nicole Eisenman.
Program B is an all-Graham program featuring three of Graham’s greatest Greek-themed works. Set to an evocative score by Samuel Barber, Cave of the Heart (1946) is a startling look at the destructive power of love inspired by the story of Medea. Night Journey (1947), with music by William Schumann, 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.
Completing the program is The Errand into the Maze Project, a new production of Errand into the Maze (1947) presented without the classic sets and costumes, which were damaged during Hurricane Sandy. Errand into the Maze is loosely based on the Greek myth of Theseus and is set to a score by Gian Carlo Menotti. The new arrangement, directed by Luca Veggetti with Graham principal dancer Miki Orihara, uses the absence of the set and costumes to offer the audience a fresh look at Graham’s choreography unadorned.
Lastly, Program C will feature Luca Veggetti’s From the Grammar of Dreams, created specifically for the company and Myth and Transformation. 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. The dance draws on some of the ideas in the musical composition and explores the often-fragmented structure of actions and events in dreams.
The program also includes the New York premiere of a new Lamentation Variation by Doug Varone. Lamentation Variations is an ongoing project that commissions artists to create choreographic sketches in response to Graham’s iconic work Lamentation. Hailed by Dance Magazine as one of the “best choreographic works of 2012,” Varone’s Variation is a poignant quartet for men set to Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit. Variations by postmodernist Yvonne Rainer (from 2012) and Taiwanese choreographer Bulareyaung Pagarlava (from 2009) will also be performed.
Cave of the Heart opens and Graham’s 1948 work Diversion of Angels will close Program C. An abstract essay on the infinite aspects of love, this lyrical work for 11 dancers is set to a score by Norman Dello Joio. A film created by film artist and former Graham Company star Peter Sparling will introduce Diversion of Angels using archival footage from several generations of Graham dancers performing the work.
Two special events will also be presented this season. The Annual Gala performance on February 21 opens with “Moon,” a rarely seen duet from Graham’s The Canticle for Innocent Comedians followed by The Show (Achilles Heels), introduced by fashion icon Patricia Field and featuring a live performance by Deborah Harry.
This special gala evening will honor the Martha Graham Center’s Chairman and longest-serving Trustee, Judith G. Schlosser, and Herbert S. Schlosser for their service to the company for over forty years.
The company’s Fall and Recovery Benefit, created to raise funds to cover damages the company sustained during Hurricane Sandy, is scheduled for February 26. The program will feature one-night-only special performances such as a sneak preview excerpt from a work-in-process by Nacho Duato. Created to a score by Arvo Pärt, the Duato work was commissioned for the Company by Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina and will have its world premiere in Chapel Hill 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 premiere of Luca Veggetti’s From the Grammar of Dreams, and performances by stars of the dance world including Wendy Whelan and Michelle Dorrance, among several others. The program will be capped by the fourth annual All-City Panorama project as 36 high school students from all over the metropolitan area dance Graham’s stunning work Panorama from 1935.
All-City Panorama will also be presented as part of the second annual University Partners Showcase. This special program offers Graham works performed by university and high school dancers from around the country and will be presented at the matinee on Saturday, February 23.
The dancers of the Martha Graham Dance Company are Tadej Brdnik, Katherine Crockett, Jennifer DePalo, Maurizio Nardi, Miki Orihara, Blakeley White-McGuire, Lloyd Knight, Mariya Dashkina Maddux, Ben Shultz, Xiaochuan Xie, PeiJu Chien-Pott, Natasha Diamond-Walker, Iris Florentiny, Oliver Tobin, Abdiel Jacobsen, Lloyd Mayor, Lorenzo Pagano, Lucy Postell and Ying Xin.
Upcoming performances will take place at The Joyce Theater, located at 175 Eighth Avenue (at 19th Street) in New York City. Tickets range from $10 to $59. Prices are subject to change. Tickets can be purchased by calling JOYCECHARGE at 212-242-0800, or online at www.joyce.org.
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.
Photo: Blakeley White-McGuire of Martha Graham Dance Company performing Cave of the Heart. Photo by Costas, courtesy of Martha Graham Dance Company.