The Soraya Joins Martha Graham Dance Company and Wild Up for the World Premiere of a Digital Dance Creation
The ongoing collaboration by three major arts organizations, Martha Graham Dance Company, the Los Angeles-based Wild Up music collective, and The Soraya, will continue June 19 with the premiere of a digital dance inspired by archival remnants of Martha Graham’s Immediate Tragedy, a solo she created in 1937 in response to the Spanish Civil War. Graham created the solo in collaboration with composer Henry Cowell, but it was never filmed and has been considered lost for decades. Drawing on the common experience of today’s immediate tragedy – the global pandemic, the 22 artists creating the project are collaborating from locations across the U.S. and Europe using a variety of technologies to coordinate movement, music, and digital design.
The new digital Immediate Tragedy, commissioned by The Soraya, premieres online Friday, June 19 at 4pm (PDT)/7pm (EDT) during Fridays at 4 on The Soraya Facebook page, and Saturday, June 20 at 11:30am/2:30pm at the Martha Matinee on the Graham Company’s YouTube Channel.
In its new iteration, Immediate Tragedy will feature 14 dancers and 6 musicians each recorded from the safety of their homes. Martha Graham Dance Company’s Artistic Director Janet Eilber, in consultation with Rountree and The Soraya’s Executive Director, Thor Steingraber, suggested the long-distance creative process inspired by a cache of recently rediscovered materials—over 30 photos, musical notations, letters and reviews all relating to the 1937 solo. Each dancer received four photos from which to develop specific movement phrases. Rountree and the musicians have taken inspiration from shards of Cowell’s music notations found in the Graham archives. All the artists received the background materials and are collectively basing their artistic contributions on Graham’s reflection in a letter to Henry Cowell “… whether the desperation lies in Spain or in a memory in our own hearts it is the same … I had been in a valley of despair, too. I felt in that dance I was dedicating myself anew to space, that in spite of violation I was upright and that I was going to stay upright at all costs …”
This new Immediate Tragedy is currently in rehearsal and being created remotely under the dictates of social distancing. The Soraya’s own video editor Ricki Quinn is working with Eilber and Rountree to bring all the elements together for the onscreen theatrical presentation. It will be available for viewing on the Martha Graham YouTube Channel and www.TheSoraya.org. Both companies have been engaging extensively online with their audiences during COVID Sheltering orders. This original digital dance, however, requires an even greater level of innovation since none of the artists will ever be in the same room.
The 30-minute world premiere showings on June 19 and 20 will include interviews with the collaborators, a screening of a recent performance of Deep Song, a solo which the choreographer created as a companion to Immediate Tragedy in 1937, and the premiere of the new digital Immediate Tragedy, which is 10 minutes long.
The new digital Immediate Tragedy will premiere online Friday, June 19 at 4pm (PDT)/7pm (EDT) during Fridays at 4 on The Soraya Facebook page, and Saturday, June 20 at 11:30am/2:30pm at the Martha Matinee on the Graham Company’s YouTube Channel.