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Martha Graham Company Alumni Celebrate Their Founder's Legacy at The Joyce
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Martha Graham Company Alumni Celebrate Their Founder's Legacy at The Joyce

- Onstage with the Dancers

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Presented by Paul Szilard Productions, Inc.

Martha Graham Dance Company
From the Horse's Mouth:
magical tales of real dancers

Celebrating the Legacy of Martha Graham
(Graham Company Website)
Conceived and Directed by Tina Croll and Jamie Cunningham
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 15, 2007


(See Graham Company Interviews and Reviews)
Program:

From the Horse's Mouth: magical tales of real dancers (2007):
Conceived and directed by Tina Croll and Jamie Cunningham. Featuring Graham Alumni: Mary Anthony, Thea Nerissa Barnes, Barbara Bennion, Dot Berea, Tadej Brdnik, Jacqulyn Buglisi, David Chase, Miriam Cole, Janet Eilber, Ellen Graff, Joyce Herring, Mary Hinkson, Stuart Hodes, Chiaro Dello Joio, Deborah Jowitt, Pearl Lang, Peggy Lyman, Daniel Maloney, Don McDonagh, Susan McLain, Virginie Victoire Mécène, Miki Orihara, Kevin Predmore, Pascal Rioult, Steve Rooks, Gus Solomons Jr., David Zurak.

In my April 2006 review of the Martha Graham Dance Company's tribute to its 80th Anniversary, I mentioned being disappointed at the level of respect shown to its Founder, Choreographer, and original Artistic Director, Martha Graham. There was little historical film footage, no large Graham photos as backdrop, no printed Graham memorabilia as mementos. Instead, the event mocked and diminished the class and professionalism of Ms. Graham, and, tellingly, numerous Graham alumni either skipped the ceremonies or were not even invited. This afternoon's Graham Alumni event was a small improvement on the 2006 "Gala Evening"; yes, small.

Generations of Graham dancers gathered onstage at The Joyce, with a stage manager barking orders to pay attention and listen to cues. The press photos were taken just as the audience began filing in, a bit late on the schedule, and it was obvious that numerous important Graham dancers, including Paul Taylor, Terese Capucilli, Christine Dakin, Erica Dankmeyer, Martin Lofsnes, Ken Topping, Christophe Jeannot, and many more, were nowhere in sight. The only program notes were brief bios of those participating, no real list of all alumni, and not even music/sound/set credits for the stage production. Suffice it to say that the "score" was the sound of a horse neighing, some other non-descript sounds, and the "Horse's Mouth" was apparently a reference to Martha Graham's original quotes. Yes, a "horse" motif. My heart sank.

However, once the proceedings began, there were actually some moving moments. SOME. Participants included original Graham Company members, such as Stuart Hodes, who danced with Graham from 1946 until 1957, reciting an original poem, quite good, with drama and some movement as well, Mary Anthony, who studied with Sophie Maslow in the 1940's, Dot Berea, who danced Graham works in the 1940's, Jacqulyn Buglisi, who danced with the Graham Company from 1977-1989, Janet Eilber, the current Graham Artistic Director (her written bio omitted the years danced), Mary Hinkson, who joined the Graham Company in 1951, Pearl Lang, who danced Martha Graham's unique roles in seven works, Virginie Mécène, Director of the Graham School and a dancer in the Company since 1994, Miki Orihara, still a Principal dancer, who joined the Company in 1987, Pascal Rioult, a Choreographer now of his own company, who danced with the Graham Company in the 1980's and 90's, and younger dancers, such as Maurizio Nardi, from Italy.

Dancers appeared onstage in solo and in small ensembles, sometimes switching from right stage to left, in silhouette or full light, moving or telling one anecdote on "the chair", with the un-credited score filling the space in between, loudly and intermittently, including clapping thunder and lightning. Much of this event was seemingly unscripted and loosely rehearsed, with some speakers reading lines and others improvising, often with poignancy and affection for the all-too-absent Martha Graham. There were tales of fearing Martha, of adoring Martha, of fleeing Martha, of peering at Martha, of channeling Martha, of tangling with Martha, and of dancing with Martha. Some of the most meaningful anecdotes seemed to be impromptu, such as Maurizio Nardi's tale of his need to keep spontaneity in his dance, while some were too scripted and contrived. The briefer the better.

It would be wonderful for the Graham Company, in its latest executive incarnation (many in-house legal battles and staff changes have led to recent shaky seasons), to mount a true, pure tribute to Martha Graham, with ALL alumni welcome and participating, with fewer stage distractions and more large, archival photos, clear films and audio clips of the REAL Martha Graham, no impersonators (as in the 2006 event), no horse's neighing and thunder clapping, no diminishing of Ms. Graham's high standards and seriousness of purpose. Cute stories are appropriate, when they celebrate and do not diminish the person they are meant to remember. In most cases this afternoon, the stories were appropriate and laudatory. With effort and collaboration from outside today's tight circle, a tribute to Martha Graham in "class act" style would enhance the efforts and audience appeal for a Company founded by a "class act" woman.



Martha Graham Dance Company Alumni
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower




Martha Graham Dance Company Alumni
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower




Martha Graham Dance Company Alumni
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower




Martha Graham Dance Company Alumni
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower




Martha Graham Dance Company Alumni and Dancers
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower




Martha Graham Dance Company Alumni and Dancers
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower




Martha Graham Dance Company Alumni and Dancers
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower




Martha Graham Dance Company Alumni and Dancers
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower




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