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Martha Graham Dance Company 2007 at The Joyce, Program B
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Martha Graham Dance Company 2007 at The Joyce, Program B

- Onstage with the Dancers

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Presented by Paul Szilard Productions, Inc.

Martha Graham Dance Company
(Graham Company Website)
Program B
Cave of the Heart, Embattled Garden, Acts of Light
At
The Joyce Theater
www.joyce.org
175 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
212.242.0800

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 14, 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.

Cave of the Heart (1946): Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham, Music by Samuel Barber, Set by Isamu Noguchi, Original Lighting Design by Jean Rosenthal, Adapted by Beverly Emmons, Performed by Elizabeth Auclair as Medea, David Zurak as Jason, Yuko Giannakis as The Princess, and Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch as The Chorus.

In today's performance of one of Ms. Graham's masterpieces, Cave of the Heart, in which Medea exacts vengeance on her husband, Jason, his lover, The Princess Creon's Daughter, and a one-woman Chorus serves as an emotional barometer for audience anticipation, Elizabeth Auclair was superbly coiled, tautly tense in the most sexual-psychic meaning. Medea is the quintessential woman-scorned, and she engages the audience with gut-wrenching pathos, even as she drags the poisoned Princess across the stage as precious prey. However, the remaining cast could not compare to my April 2005 review, in which Fang-Yi Sheu was Medea, Martin Lofsnes was Jason, Erica Dankmeyer was The Princess, and Katherine Crockett was The Chorus. Ms. Auclair's performance equaled that of Ms. Sheu, magnetic and nuanced, but David Zurak as Jason, Yuko Giannakis as The Princess, and Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch as The Chorus did not individually or collectively exude the requisite angst, anger, or adoration intrinsic to the work. Dancing a Graham role is not enough. One must BECOME that role and transport the audience fully into that space.

Embattled Garden (1958): Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham, Music by Carlos Surinach, Set by Isamu Noguchi, Original Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Adapted by Beverly Emmons, Performed by Miki Orihara as Eve, Tadej Brdnik as Adam, Katherine Crockett as Lilith , and Lloyd Knight as The Stranger.

In January 2003, I enthusiastically reviewed this work with Miki Orihara, Tadej Brdnik, Elizabeth Auclair, and Christophe Jeannot. Today's cast once again brought us Miki Orihara as Eve and Tadej Brdnik as Adam. Ms. Orihara and Mr. Brdnik were equally as persuasive in these anguish-driven roles, with characters wandering through Noguchi's imposing mazes, wrought with contrasting emotions. Lilith is Adam's first wife, and The Stranger is the omni-prescient one, who has experienced the outside world. Katherine Crockett served this role well, but Lloyd Knight could not compare to Christophe Jeannot's performance, some years ago. It might be useful for the current Company to watch the archived films of Graham's original and later Principals. It was worth the visit just to see Ms. Orihara and Mr. Brdnik in their expression and expansion of Ms. Graham's intentions.

Acts of Light (1981): Choreography by Martha Graham, Music by Carl Nielsen, Costumes by Halston and Martha Graham, Lighting by Beverly Emmons, Performed by Jennifer DePalo/Maurizio Nardi as Conversation of Lovers, Blakeley White-McGuire/Lloyd Knight as Lament, Jennifer DePalo/Maurizio Nardi as Ritual to the Sun, and the Company.

On first viewing, this more recent Graham work, original but late in the repertoire, is less interesting than most, less dramatic, less detailed. The erotic male costumes, by Graham and Halston, were outlandishly minimal, and Carl Nielsen's music did not help. However, Maurizio Nardi and Jennifer DePalo enhanced the experience in "Conversation of Lovers" and "Chief Celebrants". Maurizio Nardi is one of the finest Graham dancers to watch, as he evolves year after year. Mr. Nardi is a panther onstage, pouncing and pulsating, prowling and prancing. His muscularity is defined and determined, and he grabs the imagination and runs with it in a fully nuanced performance. His spontaneity works with the Graham genre, a spontaneity that is lacking in so many of the newer Company dancers. Jennifer DePalo is growing into her roles with internalized power.



Miki Orihara and Tadej Brdnik in "Embattled Garden"
Photos Courtesy of John Deane




Miki Orihara and Tadej Brdnik in "Embattled Garden"
Photos Courtesy of John Deane





For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net