CriticalDance Forum

Fight to support Martha Graham Co.
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Author:  Azlan [ Mon Jul 03, 2000 8:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Fight to support Martha Graham Co.

Thanks, Michael. It looks like they are getting serious about this stuff. But I do wish someone can get a statement from Protas.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited July 04, 2000).]

Author:  tadejny [ Thu Jul 06, 2000 5:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Fight to support Martha Graham Co.

Well,..... Here goes today's NY Times article weitten mostly from Ron's perspective:<BR> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P>

Author:  tmdell [ Thu Jul 06, 2000 11:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Fight to support Martha Graham Co.

Hello, Graham supporters. Upon reading the Times article, and having been quoted in it, I ask that everyon please be aware that much of what was reported, while factual for the most part, does not give a sense of the unfolding and interrelatedness of the disparate points reported. For example, the agreement referred to was written by me, with Mr. Protas, several years ago. It allowed for his involvment in artistic issues. In fact, it was written with several loopholes in favor of his final approval of various things in order that we would ever even arrive at an eventual agreement. The Board did not suddenly fire him because a lawyer said he needed to be involved artistically. The article misses several points from my interview which I much would have rather been reported than the fact that I choked up somewhere in the midst of the three-hour discussion. The Board's actions followed its being overthrown by Mr. Protas in September, 1999, his nearly two-year delay in getting to the formation of the Graham Trust and Foundation and the subsequent refusal to proceed with the licensing agreement that I had worked with him and the Board on for over two years prior to his finally signing it. It is also important to remember that Ron approved of Janet Eilber - in fact, brought her to the table as his successor, only to thwart her in the eleventh hour. Princess Moune, who was quoted in the article, was only on the Board because Ron threw her on, along with five others and a new chairman, in September '99, ignoring protocol and procedure and threatening the Board with walking away with the ballets if they contested his actions. The four supporters that resigned did not resign because the Board voted to remove Ron, they resigned because there was an effort to rid the Board of people who never attended meetings, never contributed and themselves felt that there was a need for a more active, hands-on presence. I will be writing a letter to the editor of the Times, as I feel the full truth MUST be provided. Mr. Protas is no victim. And as for his charm, I can only say that Shakespeare's most effective villains were also the most charming. I think, for example, Mr. Protas could as well woo a mourning widow on a funeral procession as Richard. He has proven his abilities. Please help keep the truth alive, and please help fight the injustice that has for too long clouded that great legacy.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Jul 06, 2000 12:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Fight to support Martha Graham Co.

Once again, thanks for helping us to interpret the coverage of the events, tmdell. <P>When the company was in London 18 months ago, Ron was very much in the driving seat in the discussions during the Study Day. His firm grip on the artistic direction of the Company was clear when he went out of his way to tell us that he had the final say in any of the recreations that Therese Capucelli had painstakingly carried out.<P>His control freak tendency showed up again and again. Fianlly, we saw a very good 1 hour US film about the life of Graham, which Ron insisted on introducing. He told us that unfortunately he had not had control of the production and they had over-exagerated Graham's drinking problems late in her life. It turned out to be a 2 minute sequence that was treated as sensitively as it could be. <P>Whilst it is clear that Graham did entrust the legacy to him, equally clear is the fact that it was a mistake so serious that it could endanger that legacy. The wonder to me at the time of the London visit was that people had managed to work with him for so long. <p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited July 06, 2000).]

Author:  tadejny [ Thu Jul 06, 2000 2:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Fight to support Martha Graham Co.


Author:  Azlan [ Thu Jul 06, 2000 4:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Fight to support Martha Graham Co.

Thank you, tmdell, for the clarification. There are so many intricate and sensitive issues here that it is so easy for any reporter covering it to be overwhelmed and in the process produce an article that is fraught with misconceptions.<P>However, I do find Doreen Carvajal's final paragraph chilling:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Janet Eilber, whom the company hopes -- money permitting -- to name as Mr. Protas's successor, contends that the mess has to be fixed before the Graham technique becomes a memory. "Martha could be consigned to a history class in 10 years unless there are new talent and new disciples," she said. "It will happen incredibly fast. In fact, it's already been happening."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Someone I know who is an AD of a dance company told me that it takes a lot of effort to revive a company even after only one season of closure. And this isn't any company; the Graham Center also houses the school which teaches the techniques that keeps the Graham legacy alive.<P>My question to you now, tmdell and tadejny, can you survive without Protas? Don't you need at least his cooperation in licensing the works and the costumes?<P>And what success have you had in persuading other companies, such as the Joffrey which is quoted in the article as having plans to perform a Graham work, to join you in boycotting licensing from Protas?<P>Many questions...

Author:  Michael [ Thu Jul 06, 2000 5:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Fight to support Martha Graham Co.

I'm not a lawyer, so I wonder if one can make a legal case that Mr. Protas has not acted in good faith regarding Ms. Graham's intentions.<P>This is a very serious situation regarding American cultural heritage. Does an individual have the right to control an American cultural legacy? This could be a case for the U.S. Supreme Court. Can it be argued that common cultural heritage supercedes private ownership? I doubt that even the most conservative of appointments would argue in favor of private ownership of such a cultural treasure at the expense of continuing that heritage in perpetuity. This isn't about a patent on widgets. <P>Any lawyers out there care to enligten us?<P>

Author:  Azlan [ Thu Jul 06, 2000 7:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Fight to support Martha Graham Co.

Well, you know, Michael, Shag would be perfect to respond to your question, being both an attorney and a board member of a dance company, that is if he finds time between all his cases and his travelling...<P>But you do bring up a good question? Can the Graham legacy be considered a national treasure? If so, can congress or a court intercede?

Author:  tmdell [ Fri Jul 07, 2000 4:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Fight to support Martha Graham Co.

As far as any boycott attempts, I cannot personally speak to that, as I am not actively participating in those efforts. As for a need to work with/negotiate with Mr. Protas, it has been the approach of the Board and those who filled in upon my departure in February to try and negotiate with him, the results of which have been chronicled. Having worked with or on Mr. Protas' behalf relative to several major negotiations in the past, I have little faith in the institution's ability to do so with any hope that the other party will follow through. The whole issue of the licensing agreement which I hammered out with Mr. Protas, his subsequent delays and ultimate refusals to follow through on certain elements actually precipitated my eventual departure. These sorts of problems are historic. As for the argument of ownership, national treasure and the like, would it were possible, and would that a like-minded group were willing to wage and fund the battle such an attempt would take! I have always urged the Board to at least look in that direction. Even a special arrangement which would allow the Center and School to function as some sort of protected entity, still allowing Mr. Protas his licensing rights in other arenas, would provide for some security. Perhaps an exploration into past business practices, etc. could be the start of a valid argument. Indeed, such a legacy is worth some such effort.

Author:  Azlan [ Fri Jul 07, 2000 6:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Fight to support Martha Graham Co.

tmdell, thank you for your response. Upon reflection, I wonder if working towards a "national legacy" would help the current situation. As Janet Eilber eludes to in her quote, there isn't time. If she is right in that the situation will deteriorate very quickly, quick action needs to be taken now.<P>Even a more immmediate action as a boycott will not have immediate effects. It will take time for Protas to come around; and will he and the board want to see eye to eye after this public airing of the debate?<P>Maybe this is naive for me to say but eventually the board and the company will have to deal with the man. Can they bring themselves to do this now?<P> Image *******Grace adds - new thread started. PLEASE continue there!****** <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P><p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited July 09, 2000).]

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