Sunday, October 4, 2009

Martha Graham

Henry performing a very Martha Graham-esque spin & swirl.

We went to see the Martha Graham Dance Company this past Thursday at the Dana Center at St Anselm College. It was a very educational experience. Normally that phrase has all sorts of negative connotations- as if you were being force fed information. In this instance education and dance worked well together.

The Artistic Director, Janet Eilber, spoke between each dance, which was also interspersed with historic films of Martha Graham herself dancing. Her first dance was in 1926. Graham was the originator of expressive modern dance, as we know it today. She used fabric and hair to accentuate the movements of the body and was not afraid of using awkward movements to convey an emotion. Graham was an American original and huge part of our cultural heritage. For these reasons it becomes important to "learn" about her. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The dancers were good- performing historic pieces. Some of the dances felt dated- a little too melodramatic for modern sensibilities. Others felt fresh and as pertinent as any modern dance out there.

I suppose the biggest shocker for me was that Copland's Appalachian Spring was commissioned by Graham to create a wholly American dance. Having studied music as a young girl this tidbit of information was divorced from my performing it with a band. Graham also used Isamu Noguchi to design the sets for Appalachian Spring... and here I thought he was just a faboo furniture designer for Herman Miller and sometime sculptor.

Clearly I still have a lot to learn....

1 comment:

fishnet said...

what this former band memeber forgot to mention was that there were three modern (non-graham choreographed) pieces performed in recognition of 9/11 and based upon ms. graham's "lamentation". one of these pieces ..."move variation"... was performed by principal dancer katherine crockett and was, by far, the most moving and skillfully done piece in the performance. it, alone, was worth the price of admission!