Presented by Paul Szilard Productions, Inc.
Martha Graham Dance Company
(Graham Company Website)
Diversion of Angels, Sketches from Chronicle, Night Journey
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Martha Graham: Founder, Dancer, Choreographer
Executive Director: LaRue Allen
Artistic Director: Janet Eilber
Senior Artistic Associate: Denise Vale
Music Director: Aaron Sherber
Lighting Designer: Beverly Emmons
Company Manager: Mark Johnson
Production Stage Manager: Jessica Flores
Director of School: Virginie Mécène
Press: KPM Associates: Kevin McAnarney
Martha Graham Dance Company:
Elizabeth Auclair, Tadej Brdnik, Katherine Crockett, Virginie Mécène, Miki Orihara,
Alessandra Prosperi, Erica Dankmeyer, Jennifer DePalo,
Maurizio Nardi, Blakely White-McGuire, Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch,
George Smallwood, Jacquelyn Elder, Jacqueline Bulnes, Sevin Ceviker, Mariya Dashkina Maddux, Oliver Tobin, Atsuko Tonohata,
Lloyd Knight, David Martinez, Sadira Smith,
Yuko Giannakis, David Zurak
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 20, 2007
(See Graham Company Interviews and Reviews)
A noteworthy feature for the Graham Company 2007 was the introduction of the evening’s works by renowned choreographers and dancers, who had studied or worked with Martha Graham, such as Jacques D’Amboise. Also noteworthy is the fact that many of the Graham Company’s recent dancers have moved on to their own or collaborative companies. Those who remained, Elizabeth Auclair, Tadej Brdnik, Katherine Crockett, Virginie Mécène, Miki Orihara, and Maurizio Nardi, performed with exceptional passion and presence, requisite to the Graham genre. It is disappointing that the newer members of the Company were neither as consistent in their interpretive performances of the original Graham roles, nor as internalized in the psychological dramatizations that drive the myths and legends re-enacted in Graham’s renowned oeuvres. Yet, each work on each program was satisfying in the re-visiting of a Company that has suffered so much change and financial turmoil in the past several years. It’s always a good thing for the Graham Company to have a New York Season.
Diversion of Angels (1948): Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham, Music by Norman Dello Joio, Original Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Adapted by Beverly Emmons, Performed by Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch, David Zurak, Jennifer DePalo, Tadej Brdnik, Atsuko Tonohata, Lloyd Knight, and the Company.
Diversion of Angels, with the Couple in White (mature love), the Couple in Red (erotic love), and the Couple in Yellow (adolescent love), was especially effective in the Couple in Red, with Tadej Brdnik and Jennifer DePalo seizing the stage with intensity and fire. The combinations of the three couples was enticing, as Ms. Graham designed this upbeat work, so in contrast to her darker pieces. In January 2003, I reviewed this work with Katherine Crockett, Martin Lofsnes, Fang Yi Sheu, Maurizio Nardi, Erica Dankmeyer, and Ari Mayzik. At that time, I wrote “glistening and trembling with passion”, with reference to the Couple in Red, dancers in “erotic love”. Tonight’s performance had glimmers of such moments, but only glimmers.
Sketches from Chronicle (1936): Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham, Music by Wallingford Riegger, Original Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Steps in the Street Lighting for Reconstruction by David Finley, Spectre-1914 and Prelude to Action Lighting for Reconstruction by Steven L. Shelley, Performed by Elizabeth Auclair in Spectre-1914, Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch and the Company in Steps in the Street, and Elizabeth Auclair and Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch and the Company in Prelude to Action.
Sketches from Chronicle is one of my favorite works, that, Thank God, still features Elizabeth Auclair as soloist in Spectre and Prelude to Action. Ms. Auclair, a consistently mesmerizing performer of the Graham repertoire, dances with every muscle and nerve and thought that she can muster, a study in full focus. The company, in Steps in the Street, was perfection in the silent walks and taut physiques. This anti-war work never ceases to engage the audience in its starkness and fury. The all female cast was book-ended by Ms. Auclair’s black/red expansive costume (Spectre) and white/black long costume (Prelude to Action), with Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch a study in severity and tension. I was lucky to catch this work twice in the Season.
Night Journey (1947): Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham, Music by William Schuman, Set by Isamu Noguchi, Original Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Adapted by Beverly Emmons, Performed by Katherine Crockett, David Zurak, David Martinez, Jennifer DePalo, and the Company.
Having reviewed this work in January 2003, with Christine Dakin, Kenneth Topping, Gary Galbraith, Alessandra Prosperi, and the original Company, it was uneasy getting emotionally into the depth of this 1947 masterpiece. This is the original story of Oedipus, of incest, blinding, an eerie, ominous Chorus, Queen Jocasta, and Daughters of the Night. Oedipus creates both sexual and child-like dances with Jocasta, and it is obvious that both performers must have absorbed the psychic text. Katherine Crockett is an exceptional Graham interpreter, but as Jocasta neither exploded nor imploded, as did Christine Dakin, five years ago, upon learning of Oedipus’ origins. Graham’s design of this work was brilliant, examining the complexity of the mythic Jocasta’s needs. It is up to the new Graham executives to keep such choreographic purpose and design alive in the current and future performances, not to lose the breadth of Ms. Graham’s brilliance.
Almost five years ago, I said of Kenneth Topping, as Oedipus, “He ties Jocasta to a symbolic umbilical chord, he writhes in desire and anguish, he walks on his heels, legs in military lifts, and he spins and sculpts his body, as if he is another natural, Noguchi, stage formation”. David Zurak, with dramatic focus, may achieve such role possession in years to come. David Martinez, as Tiresias, the blind seer, was adept at managing his heavy stick, as he swung his torso across the stage.