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 Post subject: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2003 4:10 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Alive and kicking
After a long legal battle for the right to perform its founder’s works, the Martha Graham Dance Company is determined to do them justice, says Clifford Bishopfor The Sunday Times


When the Martha Graham Dance Company last appeared in London, at the Barbican, it was their first visit in 20 years. Nobody watching had the least inkling that it could be their last visit ever.
Yet only a year later, the company effectively ceased to exist when the man who had been sole artistic director throughout most of the 1990s, Ron Protas, withdrew the dancers’ right to perform any of Graham’s works.

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<small>[ 30 November 2003, 09:22 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2003 7:24 am 
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<img src="http://www.dancing-times.co.uk/Pics/dancingtimes/200311/front.jpg" alt="" />

Martha Graham Dance Reborn
By Francis Mason for The Dancing Times

Following the death of Martha Graham in 1991, her heir Ronald Protas assumed artistic leadership and directed management. Internal turmoil and financial problems resulted in a long drawn out lawsuit but eventually, on August 23, 2002, the judge ruled in favour of the Martha Graham Center and School. Details were published in our issue of November 2002. The School has now returned to 316 East 63rd Street, a triumphant season was given in New York earlier this year, and international touring is underway. The company comes to Sadler’s Wells this month and, as Francis Mason insists, should not be missed.

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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2003 3:36 pm 
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I saw the second programme of the Graham Company tonight and I was in Heaven. The sense of space, geometry and the perfect blend of music, design, choreogrpahy and high quality dancing make for an outstanding evening. In addition, the fact that nobody choreographs in this style now and that the formal, well-developed technique is rarely seen in undiluted form, means that the pieces have a surprising freshness.

Some of the dancers were with the Company when they visited The Barbican some 5 years ago and many are new, but they meld together well and it's good to see the Graham legacy in such good hands.

Tonight was a sell-out, but there are seats available for at least some of the remaining evenings. Strongly recommended.

<small>[ 19 November 2003, 05:17 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2003 5:16 pm 
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I'm glad to hear it. The first time I saw the company live, in the mid-70s, I felt the same way.


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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2003 4:04 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Article from The FT.

Quote:
After years of darkness and litigation, Martha Graham's Dance Company is re-born, and returned to London. Nearly 50 years after her first appearance here, greeted with enthusiasm from the few and incomprehension from the many, Graham's genius has become - thanks to Robin Howard and Robert Cohan and their achievements at The Place - part of our dance world.

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And from The Telegraph.

Quote:
Magnificence has no sell-by date. Martha Graham's dances may no longer be modern, but they make most choreographers of the past century look exhausted.

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And The Times.

Quote:
WHEN Martha Graham died in 1991 the question was always going to be what would happen to her legacy. As it happened, her legacy almost disappeared, thanks to a prolonged dispute between her sole heir and her former colleagues that led to the suspension of her troupe. Happily, the dispute over the right to perform her work has been resolved by the courts and the legacy is assured. The Martha Graham Company, founded in 1926, is back in business.
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<small>[ 20 November 2003, 05:07 AM: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2003 6:22 am 
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<img src="http://www.sadlers-wells.com/whats_on/2003_2004/images/side_martha_2.jpg" alt="" />

I am looking forward to seeing the programme reviewed by the London critics above. The only puzzling aspect was Debra Craine's comment, "The company lost dancers during the dispute and it’s not in top shape."

Personally, I was surprised that so many of the leading performers who were at the Barbican 5 years ago were still performing with gusto. The performance I saw of the second programme featured some of the highest quality dancing I have seen this year.

<small>[ 20 November 2003, 08:12 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2003 1:10 am 
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Martha Graham - Programme 2
By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian


The last work in this Martha Graham Company season, and the last work Graham ever made, is Maple Leaf Rag (1990). It's a piece that must have startled its first-night audience, not only because it is set to the larky melodies of Scott Joplin - the kind of music Graham usually spurned - but because it's a blatant send-up of her own choreography. Witchily imperious harridans stalk the stage like a line-up of Graham's younger selves, scattering dancers who are romping through a parody of her distinctive technique.

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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2003 1:15 am 
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Martha Graham Dance Company, Sadler's Wells
By Zoe Anderson for The Independent

Seeing Martha Graham's dances now is like watching an iconic silent film. We know these works were overwhelming, as we know Valentino was devastating, but cannot always respond to them. They are impressive and dated, sometimes in the same breath.

Graham was a pioneer of modern dance, one of the great dancer-choreographers of the 20th century. Her choreography starts with Graham the dancer: her most celebrated works are those she made for herself.

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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2003 11:27 am 
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The Martha Graham Dance Company has had to survive a conflict as traumatic as anything the great lady of modern dance ever choreographed in one of her ballets and after what seemed an eternity of legal wrangling that ended only last year, the company is now able to perform her works in the manner it deems fit.

The first work in the second programme shown this week at Sadlers Wells was “Appalachian Spring”, perhaps the Graham work I am most familiar with, in fact the last time I saw it was an extract danced at the wedding of a close friend, a former Graham dancer. This depiction of the American past is blessed with such an instantly recognizable score by Aaron Copeland that its classic status has long been assured. It was excellently danced by its cast of eight dominated by the presence of Katherine Crockett as The Pioneering Woman, gazing into the distance with a dignified serenity. A perfect foil to that uptight looking Revivalist, whose religiosity seems to mask a troubled nature as he postures self-consciously before his nubile female Followers.

The middle section of the programme was made up of what were basically four female solos, the two most notable being “Satyrical Festival Dance” and “Lamentation”, the first being a light-hearted piece danced in a fun manner by Blakeley White-McGuire to the gurgling of a solo flute and the second an outpouring of almost regal grief. Although I never saw her dance it, whenever I see “Lamentation” I always recall images of Martha Graham in this role. The photographs that exist of her explicitly convey the sense of tragedy she must have brought to this short piece.

“Errand into the Maze” comes very close to parody from my point of view, a feeling endorsed by some audible giggles from the audience when Christophe Jeannot as the Minotaur made his entrance sporting a pair of bull’s horns on top of his head. If “Lamentation” conjured up old pictures of Martha Graham, then I’m afraid this work conjured up memories of her wicked impersonator, Richard Move. Somehow it just didn’t work.

The final work of the evening, “Maple Leaf Rag” was an absolute delight. Graham’s final and least characteristic work, it was danced to the familiar music of Scott Joplin, who, I seem to remember, inspired another great choreographer to move away from habitual gloom to explore dance’s sunnier pastures. The entire company was on stage for this cheerful piece inhabited by merry lovers and angst ridden females who emoted outrageously in glamorous costumes by Calvin Klein no less. Clearly Graham was capable of sending herself up rotten, and although one always thinks of her creations as exercises into delving the depths of the human soul, its nice to think that she wound up that illustrious career by giving us all a good laugh.


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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2003 4:00 am 
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SATYRIC FESTIVAL SONG: METADANCE (!?) AT WORK
Martha Graham Dance Company, Programme 1&2
Sadler's Wells, London, 18&19 November 2003

upanddown she
moves her torso
hair flowing like whips
…anddownunder
a spiralling smile
produces a giggle

Stripes, stripes of different colours, black, pea green (or should I say lime?), lemon yellow, sripes all over the dancer's body, be her the blond Erica Dankmeyer or the dark Blakeley White McGuire. The costume, an elastic tube of stripy textures sewed together, pieces of the self, pieces of movements intertwined with the woman's body, be her the blond or the dark one, as I already said. Shoulders left exposed to the hair's whipping and beating. As the dancer's hair is as part of the piece as the costume and the movements. This is Graham, it is never only an isolated thing we are asked to focus upon, but rather a seires of aspects that together make her sense of dance.

And maybe arrogantly, maybe satyrically, this brief solo opens with a dancer showing her back in jumping stripes, one leg vertical to the ground (or should I say stage?) and the other pointing diagonally and stretching the stripy dress. Why is she turning her back to us, the audience? Her loose hair floats in effective waves, it embodies the only curves in this up-and-down movement of lines: horizontal in the dress, vertical and diagonal via her arms (pointing upwards) and legs.

What would have happened if her hair had been curly instead of straight? Relatively short instead of profusely long? Can we think of Graham with other body figures? It could be a proficuous territory to explore her sense of dynamics, it could be. But let us return to our satyric figure. When she finally turns her face towards us, the audience, a wierd relationship is established. Her focus was away from us, the energy emanating from her body still well preserved within the theatre box, that where the stage is, that where movement happens at a safe distance for us to appreciate it.

She repetitively looks at us, straight in our direction breaking the fiction of her performance, alluding at it as it 'really' is: a fiction!!!! The sacred (?) wall between performance and watchers of the performance is altered, she goes beyond it and that is where the satire springs from. That is what metadance is about. 'Look at me! Pay attention to my next move/ment!' she seems to 'say'. And here we go, she bends her torso forward and frames her face with her cupped hands, playing games? Playing faces? The answer is open, our reaction is to smile, to giggle, well some of us remain quietly silent, some other ask themselves 'is this supposed to be fun?'. A partly displaced, parltly amused audience is called to take part to the dance.

Here we go again, she walks, she runs, stops, bends her torso on one side looks at us, looks at her right foot and the right foot answers back curling its toes. Laughs burst among most of us, the now totally involved audience. Yes she is playing with us! The flute highlights the moving lines of the dress-movements-hair, Dankmeyer is totally gripping in this sublte game of give-and-take, perhaps it is the colour of her hair, a stricking blond, which allows us to detach her dance from that of Graham and let it have a force of its own. Perhaps it is her effervescent approach to the piece to make it function so well. McGuire, on the other hand, has a quickness lacking in her colleague, the way she passes from one section to the other seems more effective and lucidly played, though she spoils the toe curling phrase a bit.

Satyric Festival Song is a small masterpiece, a jewel created by Graham in 1932. It is a bidimensional piece which goes far beyong its time. The disruptive mode of what I like calling metadance belongs more to a postmodern approach rather than to a modernist one. But Graham has always been a problem in terms of definitions and classifications, is she a symbolist? Is she a modernist? Is she a feminist? Again the answer is open for each of us to decide and choose the option that most fits our understanding of her creative universe. In this solo she constantly keeps us aware that the dancer is performing a dance, that it is a performance. It is similar to what happens with 'Singing in the Rain' a musical on the making of musicals. I have recently watched again 'Orlando' by Sally Potter, and there the protagonist often looks straight at the camera breaking the illusion of the story, going beyond (that is what 'meta-' means) its structure of characters and events. In the same way our satyrical figure plays with us at the game of dancing, moving her bottom in front of our faces, simulating a fall for a presumed lack of balance and so on and so forth. To have it performed in both programmes at the Sadler's Wells performances is yet a further chance to unveil its multiple layers of messages, lines, stripes, smiles….

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Rosella Simonari


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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2003 5:20 am 
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Martha Graham Dance Company
Tuesday, 18th November 2003
Sadler’s Wells Theatre
London

The works of Martha Graham are like the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci: they are revered and admired even by those who have never actually seen them. I have read a great deal about Martha Graham and how her work has influenced dance, and life itself. I know well the classical stories that inspired many of her choreographies. I am fascinated with the woman and the hair piled up high in a bun. It inspires me that she danced well into her sixties. Yet, apart from the parodies, works inspired by the Graham technique and performed extracts, I have never see a full Graham choreography live on stage. Add to this the controversy surrounding Ron Protas, Graham’s heir, when he withdrew the Company’s rights to perform her works, rendering the Company bereft of its lifeblood, and you have a legend. The lengthy court case finally ruled that most of Graham’s works either belonged to the Graham Center before the will or were in the public domain. The Company is back in business. It is hardly surprising that on the way to Sadler’s Wells Theatre for the Company’s first London appearance since the court ruling, I felt a strong sense of occasion and, indeed, of history. It was a night worthy of wearing a good suit and high heels.

In that respect I was not disappointed. The opening work of the first programme “Night Journey,” which tells the story of Oedipus’marriage to his mother Queen Jocasta, set to a haunting score by Willian Schuman, is vintage Graham. Queen Jocasta was danced by Christine Dakin as if she ‘was’ Graham. Dakin is joint Artistic Director of the company with fellow veteran Terese Capucilli. She has been a member of the Company since 1976 and was hand-reared by Graham. So much part of the fabric of ‘Grahamism’ is she that certain roles in the repertory were created on her. Dakin’s movement is clear, crisp and dramatic. She has the sinewy body and defined muscles of a seasoned dancer. This is completely right for the role of Jocasta since, being in her fifties, she is dancing the role at a similar age to the great lady herself – Graham was 53 when the work was premiered in 1947. To clinch the comparison, her hair was piled high in a bun – “a la Graham.”

Dakin is a superb guardian of the Graham tradition. Her performance was loaded with tension and you believe she has taken her own life when, after she discovers that her beloved husband is her also her son, she pulls a rope around her neck. Kenneth Topping (another veteran, he joined the Company in 1984) is a respectable Oedipus. Yet the rest of the dancers – the chorus – were pretty shoddy. Even with the excuse of opening night nerves the supporting female dancers looked under-rehearsed and, in places, not particularly versed in Graham technique. Dakin’s performance was, however, all-pervasive and so it was easy to ignore the surrounding shortcomings.

“Satyric Festival Song” (1932) is a stocking filler. It has no great dramatic weight but is an amusing little ditty, well executed by Erica Dankmeyer. “Diversion of Angels” (1948) was given more dramatic hype in the programme than it deserved. Three couples and supporting chorus live out their respective personalities in love: the white couple represents mature love in perfect balance, the red couple plays out erotic love and the yellow couple, adolescent love. The white and yellow couples got it, spot on. Katherine Crockett is a tall, confident dancer with masses of physical presence and she delivered a faultless study in a seasoned woman’s love. Yuko Suzuki hopped around like a young deer. Virginie Mecene looked equal to the game of eroticism but her choreography didn’t give her the opportunity to properly express it. More like, athletic (read, ‘bad’) sex. Martin Lofsnes, Maurizio Nardi and Christophe Jeannot, their partners, are superb dancers – strong athletically and very lyrical in their performances. I had wondered how men’s choreography would fare under Graham – would a strong woman give them equal billing or consign them to be supporting partners? The men clearly had equal billing.

The first three pieces showed the breadth of Graham’s creativity. I am most familiar with the work inspired by the Classics – it is always easier to read about movement that expresses an action or emotion surrounding a storyline than about abstract dance that expresses a mood. I saw how much more Graham was, and is, since this not a museum company performing works carved in stone. It appears a vibrant, living company with blood still coursing through its veins and water flowing up through the roots. Where a lot of contemporary dance looks dated, much of this could have been made yesterday – it is very modern, modern dance.

The finale “Sketches from Chronicle” (1936) looks a great deal more like the Graham with which I am familiar. It is a dramatic work in which women emote on the subject of war. The particular war is the First World War but all wars are the same in terms of the destruction they wreak and the spirits they destroy. Again the soloists are magnificent while some of the chorus members are wobbly. (I assume that if Graham technique is used to execute the step, shakiness is out of the question.) The dresses of the principal figures are long black gowns with reams of material extending beyond floor-length, lined with blood-red silk, which are so ably managed so as never to appear in a heap around the ankles. The dancer’s movements are so nimble that the dress extends from the leg in a continuous line with no time to sag before it is thrown into another pose. This makes the wobbling of the chorus all the more inexcusable. In fact the shakiness can cause you to suspend belief in the Company, which is precisely the point at which you wonder whether the Company’s future lies in it becoming a museum piece. Will it repeat the works of Graham, choreographed by Graham, produced by Graham, costumes by Graham, with hair, ‘definitely’ by Graham? Or will it build on Graham technique and continue to suck the nourishment up from the roots to produce new spring leaves – new works?


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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2003 8:54 am 
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Complex behaviour
Jocasta's sufferings cast Oedipus in a brand new light. Suddenly, he's not the hero. By Jann Parry for The Observer

In the four years since the Martha Graham dancers were last in London, the company fought and won a bitter battle to retain the Graham repertoire. Martha's heir, Ron Protas, wanted to disperse her dances to other companies, thereby weakening the link with the teachers, coaches and performers who have kept her legacy alive.

The outcome of two court cases was that the Graham name, training methods and bulk of the repertoire remain with the trust she set up in the 1950s. Although the com pany emerged triumphant, it had to be reformed. Veteran principal dancers are still there (including the joint artistic directors, Terese Capucilli and Christine Dakin) but newer corps members are not fully at home in the Graham style.

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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2003 3:43 am 
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2 reviews from The Independent.

Quote:
The Martha Graham Dance Company filled Sadler's Wells with an audience of students. Graham was an icon of modern dance, and works like Appalachian Spring or Lamentation are vital dance history.

The company is a museum of Graham choreography, and sometimes it feels like it. Graham made her great roles for herself, and they lose power without her. This programme is weaker than the first: it has more of her solos, more dances where the Graham heroine is the point. Even so, they're worth seeing for Graham's authority as a choreographer, her command of pace, of stage space, of dramatic tension.

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Quote:
Four years ago, when the Martha Graham troupe last came to London, no one could have guessed that its demise was imminent. The mother of modern dance had died aged 96 leaving an astonishing legacy created over eight decades. Her company was devoted to honouring it, a still-curious public devoured it.
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<small>[ 27 November 2003, 04:45 AM: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2003 7:47 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
The Martha Graham Legacy
After a long legal battle, the Martha Graham Company have established their right to perform her work. This week the company are at Sadler's Wells with two programmes of work spanning eight decades. Rupert Smith unravels the reasons for the dispute between the company and the man who was the sole beneficiary of her will. From londondance.com


In 1998, Time magazine named Martha Graham as the dancer of the century, a creative icon on a par with James Joyce and Pablo Picasso.
She was a friend of the stars: Madonna, Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol and Elizabeth Taylor all paid court. And yet, for the last ten years, the Martha Graham Company has been hurtling downhill, riven by internal squabbles that all but erased the great woman’s legacy. Now, thanks to the far-sightedness of a US judge, what’s left of the company is picking up the pieces and bringing the classic Graham repertoire back to the London stage.

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 Post subject: Re: Martha Graham Dance Company in London 2003
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 8:25 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
From the February issue of our magazine:

Quote:
The Graham Residency at Laban

by Heidi Baumgartner
Ballet-Dance.com

In this Residency I had the pleasure of experiencing different teachers including Miki Orihara from the Martha Graham Dance Company and Susan Sentler from Laban. <a href=http://www.ballet-dance.com/200402/articles/MarthaGrahamResidency20040200.html target=_blank>more</a>


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