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Martha Graham Dance Company: "Deep Song", "Panorama", "Errand into the Maze", "The Snow Falls in the Winter", "Echo", at The Joyce Theater
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Martha Graham Dance Company: "Deep Song", "Panorama", "Errand into the Maze", "The Snow Falls in the Winter", "Echo", at The Joyce Theater

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Martha Graham Dance Company
(Graham Company Website)

Shape & Design
Film by Peter Arnell
Deep Song
Lamentation Variations
Errand into the Maze
The Snow Falls in the Winter

The Joyce Theater

Martha Graham: Founder, Choreographer
Artistic Director: Janet Eilber
Executive Director: LaRue Allen
Senior Artistic Associate: Denise Vale
Press: Janet Stapleton

Martha Graham Dance Company:
Tadej Brdnik, PeiJu Chien-Pott,
Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch, Lloyd Knight,
Mariya Dashkina Maddux, Blakely White-McGuire,
Abdiel Jacobsen, Ben Schultz, XiaoChuan Xie,
Natasha M. Diamond Walker, Lloyd Mayor,
Lauren Newman, Lorenzo Pagano, Lucy Postell,
Ying Xin, Charlotte Landreau, Anne O’Donnell,
Dani Stinger, Konstantina Xintara

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 13, 2015

(See More Graham Company Reviews and Interviews)

Film by Peter Arnell (2015): Edited by Dan Marino, Music by Ron “Neffu” Feemster, Camera: Rune Stokmo, Asst. Camera: Connie Zhou, Graphics: Yuko Yamazaki.

Peter Arnell’s new film is created of thousands of stills of the dancers in motion, then photo-montaged as a pulsating film, with dancers’ legs sliding down, arms slowly outstretching, torsos pulling the bodies, ensembles joining and separating, and so on. I found the film enchanting, in black and white, and it was presented for every program.

Deep Song (1937): Choreography and Costume by Martha Graham, Music by Henry Cowell, Lighting for Reconstruction by David Finley, Performed by Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch.

Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch danced this 1937, Graham solo role, with internalized tension and depth. She is centered, in control of a bench set, which is ever so versatile and effective. She even lifts it to hide behind it, as a wall, and even hides under it. The bench is in stark contrast to the more symbolic and surreal Noguchi sets. Ms. Ellmore-Tallitsch moved from the hips, the stomach, the shoulders, with her body externally and internally in equal catharsis, through her dance of sadness. The Henry Cowell piano score is disturbing in tonality, as Ms. Ellmore-Tallitsch exemplifies a tortured, Spanish woman, exuding pain and crisis. Dissonance of music was a metaphor for dissonance of spirit..

Panorama (Theme of Dedication, Imperial Theme, Popular Theme, 1935): Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham, Music by Norman Lloyd, Lighting by David Finlay, 1992 Reconstruction by Yuriko, Staged by Oliver Tobin and Amelie Benard, Performed by The Teens of Panorama.

Martha Graham’s Panorama, from 1935, like the 1936 Chronicle, speaks to the rumblings of impending war, through “thought and action”. This work is designed for large numbers of high school teens, all in red costumes by Ms. Graham, shirt and loose pants for the two or so young men, and long dresses for the large numbers of young women. The 40 teens race through, create circular hand-held motion, run in and through lines of dancers, hop, jump, prance, gallop, and generally exude enormous amounts of energized ebullience. This work was reconstructed in 1992 by Yuriko.

Lamentation Variations(Project: 2007): Choreography by Michelle Dorrance, Liz Gerring, and Bulareyaung Pagarlava, Performed by the Company.

Every program has two or more Variations on Martha Graham’s grief-stricken Lamentation. Tonight’s three Variations were designed by Michelle Dorrance, Liz Gerring, and Bulareyaung Pagarlava. Ms. Dorrance’s work, as has been reviewed on previous evenings, brings an ensemble out in casual street clothes, gazing, walking, facing front or rear, leaning or pushing one another at times, to a syncopated percussive rhythm. Ms. Gerring’s work was led by Ying Xin tonight, with dancers running about, crouching, twitching, swimming, and more. A tape of Ms. Graham, espousing on tragedy, introduces the Pagarlava Variation, danced sinuously by three men, Lloyd Knight, Lloyd Mayor, and Ben Schultz.

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, Lighting adapted by Beverly Emmons, Performed by Blakely White-McGuire and Abdiel Jacobsen.

Martha Graham’s 1947 Errand Into the Maze is one of my favorite works. Even after Hurricane Sandy, when the Graham Company sadly lost so many costumes and sets to flooded storage, the Company performed this work with makeshift sets. Tonight we saw the original forms, by Noguchi, along with Ms. Graham’s costume designs. Blakely White-McGuire is the woman tormented by her demons, in the image of the minotaur, the Creature of Fear. Ms. White-McGuire struggles with a maze of white ropes, until she wrestles and conquers her demons, with the horned and muscle-bound Mr. Jacobsen falling to the ground. Then, Ms. White-McGuire unties her maze, as she emerges with self-possessed pride. The Gian Carlo Menotti score is powerful and impassioned, making this riveting drama. The choreography emphasizes the pelvis, the shoulders, the head..

The Snow Falls in the Winter (World Premiere): Choreography, Sound Design, Costumes by Annie-B Parson, Co-Direction by Paul Lazar, Music by David Lang, Performed by Robert Black (bass), Sound Engineering by Eben Hoffer, Recorded and Engineered by David Cossin, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Rehearsal Director: Elizabeth DeMent, Performed by the Company.

I have not been a consistent fan of the newest choreography shown in the Graham programs in recent years, preferring Martha Graham’s original and reconstructed works. Ionesco’s play, “The Lesson”, based on a work about a male teacher’s lust for serial murder of female students, made into a ballet which I have unfavorably reviewed on unfortunate viewings, is not what I’d call ripe material for a new dance for the Graham Company, especially after the previous work, about a woman overcoming oppression.

Regardless of tonight’s program notes, that the dance involves “teaching, learning, and grammar”, the fact that it’s adapted from the Ionesco play ruins the experience, even before the lights appear. Annie-B Parson, choreographer, has dancers actually speak, with microphones, around a table and chairs. Females fan the male teacher with a fan between their toes. Tadej Brdnik is the professor, XioChuan Xie is the vulnerable student, Lauren Newman is in a maid’s costume, and Natasha M. Diamond-Walker, with Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch, are on narration. When a brown lunch bag is toppled, a track of crowd fervor ensues. The music is forgettable, like Ms. Parson’s dance.

Echo (2014): Choreography by Andonis Foniadakis, Music by Julien Tarride, Costumes by Anastasios Sofroniou, Scenic and Lighting Design by Clifton Taylor, Performed by Lloyd Mayor, Lloyd Knight, Peiju Chien-Pott, and the Company.

Of all the new, recent works presented in the Graham Seasons, my new favorite is Adonis Foniadakis’ Echo. This is a classy and thought-provoking work, one that grows on the viewer, with Lloyd Mayor as Narcissus, Lloyd Knight as his reflection, and Peiju Chien-Pott as Echo, Narcissus’ lover. The ensemble is the multiple-voiced chorus of Echo, or so it seems. The stage is lit for a reflecting pool, and Mr. Mayor’s lead role is exemplary, with masterful poise and outstretched arms, as he gazes upon himself. He projects conflict, in duo dance with Ms. Chien-Pott, and in struggles and connectivity with Mr. Knight. The ensemble becomes almost wild in the nighttime light. In the ensemble, Charlotte Landreau caught my eye, with her remarkable focus and drama.

Kudos to all, and kudos to Martha Graham.

Martha Graham Dance Company
in Michelle Dorrance's "Lamentation Variation"
Courtesy of Christopher Jones

Tadej Brdnik, Xiaochuan Xie, Natasha Diamond-Walker,
and Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch
in Annie-B Parson's "The Snow Falls in the Winter"
Courtesy of Brigid Pierce

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at