From March 13 to 18, the Martha Graham Dance Company will hold a new performance at The Joyce Theater in New York City. Ed Graham’s work on the interstices of the human psyche will be featured in the company’s new addition to their successful series of dance performances incorporating narration and other media. The company will present two programs—along with a Family matinee presentation—on March 17 at 2:00 pm. Audience will again be treated to the Martha Graham’s trailblazing work in modern dance and modern dance performance wear.
Yvonne Rainer and Lar Lubovitch will debut new works on March 13 and 15. The two shows will kick off with a film montage showing excerpts of Martha Graham performing her psychology-laded works intercut with scenes from prominent psychological films of Graham’s time. America’s fascination with psychology and how popular culture of the period has recorded the phenomenon is captured on the montage, which was created by one of Graham’s former dancers and an acclaimed video artist, Peter Sparling.
The first program starts with the montage, followed by Mary Wigman’s Witch Dance. Mary Wigman, a German choreographer, was a contemporary of Graham’s. Mary Anne Newhall will slip into Wigman’s dance performance attire and recreate Witch Dance. Every Soul is a Circus follows, which is a first combination of the Lamentation Variations, and then Martha Graham’s opus adapted from the Greek tragedy of Jocasta and Oedipus, Night Journey completes Program A.
Sparling’s film will also open Program B, followed by Lori May’s solo performance from Ana Sokolow’s Lyric Suite. Sokolow was an important 20th century choreographer who found her footing in Graham’s dance company. After Lori May’s solo, Deaths and Entrances (1944), the second combination of the Lamentation Variations and Chronicle (1936).
In celebration of Martha Graham’s legacy and art as well as the company’s yearly staging of new works, the world-class choreographers will create a variation of Lamentation in their best modern dance apparel, an offering to the Company. The Martha Graham Dance Company created the Lamentation Variations in 2007 as a tribute to the victims of the September 11 attacks in New York City.
Other renowned choreographers joining Rainer and Lubovitch are Aszure Barton, Richard Move, and Larry Keigwin, who made their variations in 2007. Bulareyaun Pagarlava will also be part of the project, having done a variation in 2009. The Joyce will see the three variations in a different combination on every program. Rainer’s Variation is a duet performance called “Lamentable.” The Company will receive Lubovitch’s variations in February this year.
The Martha Graham Dance Company has been in the forefront of finding new means of access for the audience, concocting experiments to bring modern dance to the public. The Inner Landscape is a brand new offering of the same kind, a novel approach to dance programming. The company’s successful “Political Dance Project” in 2010 saw modern dance anchored by the theme of political activism. The multimedia collaborations, dance performances and educational activities seek to unravel the psychological dimensions of the art of dance.
Seeking the answer to seemingly simple questions, “What are you thinking?” or “What are you feeling?” the Martha Graham Dance Company urges dance enthusiasts to join the online contest, “On the Couch: An Inner Monologue.” The contests features two members of the company in dance wear online.
The dance company’s website already posted two videos showing a man and a woman respectively, portraying patients undergoing therapy. These two videos serve as a jump off point for aspiring participants who may or may not ever have donned dance wear for kids when they were young.
Entrants are expected to make a video, or psychodrama, showing their emotional reaction to the said dance videos. The two performers in dancer wear are performing through a range of emotions that contestants must respond to in text or dialogue on video.
After downloading each of the clips running up to three minutes, participants should add text, dialogue or voiceover interpreting the dancer’s feelings and thoughts. The text or caption should begin with the sentence prompt, “Doctor, it’s happening again.”
Tadej Brdnik, principal dancer at the Martha Graham Dance Company, says that the contestants’ text input can be either deeply personal or as broad as topics such as world war. Brdnik who directs the contest is one of the performers in the videos. Contestants must also incorporate anywhere in the video the quote, “Movement never lies,” words which came from Martha Graham herself.
The contest encourages not only therapy but also entices dormant dance lovers to slip into their dance tops, dancers leg warmers, or whatever they’re comfortable in and finally take up dancing. The Martha Graham Company hopes that the interactive videos will draw new audience to their performances.
Janet Eilber, the company’s artistic director and the force behind “On the Couch: An Inner Monologue,” describes the company as a leader in steering the modern dance world in finding new ways to reach out to new audiences.
“On the Couch” is considered a playful addition to the company theme this season called “Inner Landscape,” which portrays the American choreographer exploring the human psyche and its permutations in a variety of movement and dance.
The winning entry will be featured in one of the company’s performances in New Year in March. A $500 cash prize will also be awarded. Second place and third place winner will also win the privilege of having their works shown during the company’s performances, along with $300 and $200 cash prizes respectively.
Deadline for submitting entries is Feb. 15.
The judging panel will be composed of experts in the fields of music, creative writing, psychology, media and dance.
Brdnik says that the competition is a sort of reverse rehearsal process, as they begin with dance and build the interior lives of the characters afterward. He also hopes Graham’s enduring influence in all over the world is presented through the contest in an engaging, novel way.
The oldest dance company in the world, the company is a part of the Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance founded in 1926 by Martha Graham. Graham died in 1991.
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