Presented by Paul Szilard Productions, Inc.
Martha Graham Dance Company
(Graham Company Website)
Appalachian Spring, Sketches from Chronicle, Errand into the Maze
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 19, 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.
Appalachian Spring (1944): Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham, Music by Aaron Copland, Set by Isamu Noguchi, original Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Adapted by Beverly Emmons, Performed by Blakeley White-McGuire as The Bride, David Zurak as The Husbandman, Maurizio Nardi as The Revivalist, Katherine Crockett as The Pioneering Woman, and Jacqueline Bulnes, Jacquelyn Elder, Mariya Dashkina Maddux, and Atsuko Tonohata as The Followers.
A star of Appalachian Spring is the Noguchi set, with the exterior frontier and the interior of the hearth. Another star is Graham's context, of the interior of the heart and the exterior of the physical spirit. In April 2005, I reviewed this work with Miki Orihara as The Bride, Tadej Brdnik as The Husbandman, Christophe Jeannot as The Revivalist, Heidi Stoeckley as The Pioneering Woman, and Jennifer DePalo-Rivera, Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch, Yuko Suzuki, and Blakeley White-McGuire as The Followers. In today's performance, Blakeley White-McGuire was The Bride, and her restrained performance was not at all as expressive as was Ms. Orihara's over two years ago. David Zurak, as well, did not exude the passion or force of Tadej Brdnik, in the previous review. Mr. Zurak seems overly self-conscious, more physical than psychological. Maurizio Nardi, as The Revivalist, was as simmering and seething as was Mr. Jeannot a few years ago. Mr. Nardi is a wonder onstage, a dancer who seizes his roles and makes them unforgettable. Katherine Crockett, as well, was the quintessential Pioneering Woman, with confidence and character. The remaining cast as The Followers filled out the choreography with confidence.
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.
I was lucky to see this cast twice this Season, and I could watch Elizabeth Auclair in Spectre and Prelude to Action again and again, as she BECOMES the female figure of the ravages of War. Her red/black shroud is used in perfected fashion, as she tosses the huge train of material into the air, as it bleeds red before our eyes. In 1936, and for another decade at least, Martha Graham was at her most potent, and Sketches from Chronicle speaks to this prolific potency. The percussiveness of the score repeats in the silent motion and startling syncopation of feet. Kudos to Elizabeth Auclair for her repeat performances that riveted the audience so remarkably.
Errand into the Maze (1947): Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham, Music by Gian Carlo Menotti, Set by Isamu Noguchi, Original Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Adapted by Beverly Emmons, Performed by Miki Orihara and Tadej Brdnik.
Miki Orihara and Tadej Brdnik are two of Graham's most outstanding dancers to remain the Company. This work is about overcoming fear and the obstacles that we create to avoid the fearful figures. Miki Orihara grapples with her self-initiated cage, constructed so artfully by Noguchi. In April 2005, I reviewed this work with Elizabeth Auclair and Whitney Hunter. At that time I called the performance "emotionally electric". Tonight's performance was equally as electric, as Ms. Orihara obsesses on her tangled rope that closes the cage of her V-shaped space, perhaps sexually isolating, as well as emotionally isolating. Tadej Brdnik, the creature of Fear, with horns and stick, maximum muscles and minimal costume, attacks his prey but falls to her sudden self-propulsion. Fear is killed and light enters and endures in the heart. Menotti's score is mesmerizing, and Errand into the Maze has endured for 60 years in Graham's repertoire.
Kudos to Martha Graham.
Miki Orihara in "Errand into the Maze"
Photo Courtesy of John Deane