Roberta on the Arts
Martha Graham Dance Company: Secular Games, Herodiade, Deo, I Used to Love You
Contact Roberta
Jazz and Cabaret Corner
On Location with Roberta
In the Galleries: Artists and Photographers
Backstage with the Playwrights and Filmmakers
Classical and Cultural Connections
New CDs
Arts and Education
Onstage with the Dancers
Offstage with the Dancers
Upcoming Events
Special Events
Culture from Chicago
Our Sponsors

Martha Graham Dance Company: Secular Games, Herodiade, Deo, I Used to Love You

- Onstage with the Dancers

On Stage Dancewear
197 Madison Ave (bet 34 & 35 St)
New York, NY. 10016
1 (212) 725 1174
1 (866) 725 1174

The Finest in Modern Dancewear,
Character Shoes, Ballet Slippers, and Gym Outfits
Ask for Ronnie!

Click HERE for a
15% Discount Coupon
Off Already Discounted
On Stage Dancewear!

Martha Graham Dance Company
(Graham Company Website)

The Eve Project
Secular Games
I Used to Love You

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:
PeiJu Chien-Pott, Lloyd Knight, Ben Schultz
Xin Ying, Charlotte Landreau, Lloyd Mayor
Lorenzo Pagano, Anne Souder, So Young An
Laurel Dalley Smith, Jacob Larsen, Marzia Memoli
Anne O’Donnell, Leslie Andrea Williams, Alyssa Cebulski
Alessio Crognale, Cara McManus

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 2, 2019

(See More Graham Company Reviews and Interviews)

The April 2019 run of the Martha Graham Dance Company, now thriving in resplendent form, thanks to the nurturing and masterful leadership of its Artistic Director, Janet Eilber, performed four works today at The Joyce, two choreographed by Martha Graham in 1962 and 1944, and two choreographed by contemporary artists in 2019 and 2017. All four choreographies blended into an eclectic selection of modern dance designs, highlighting this season’s thematic title, “The EVE Project”, in honor of women choreographers and women’s power through dance. It should be noted that this season all choreographies presented are by Martha Graham and contemporary women artists. As always, Ms. Eilber greeted the Graham fans at The Joyce and introduced the evening’s program, noting that the Graham Company is the oldest American dance company, founded by Ms. Graham in 1926.

Secular Games (1962): Choreography by Martha Graham, Music by Robert Starer, Set and Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, I. “Play with thought – on a Socratic Island”, II. “Play with Dream – on a Utopian Island”, III. “Play – on any Island”, Performed by the Company. This work, new to current New York audiences, a revival from 1962, is visually enticing, featuring six, muscular male dancers in brief attire, including the dynamic new Company dancer, Alessio Crognale, all tossing a pristine, silver ball. Casual summery relationships seem to take shape, then shift, with an imaginary, balmy breeze. The segments with seven women joining the men are pleasant but not quite as magnetic as the first, “Socratic” segment. Robert Starer’s recorded score is rhythmic and upbeat, and Jean Rosenthal’s warm lighting and uncluttered set give the dance the outdoor, athletic motif it represents.

Hérodiade (1944): Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham, Music by Paul Hindemith, Set by Isamu Noguchi, Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Adapted by Yi-Chung Chen, Performed by PeiJu Chien-Pott and Natasha M. Diamond-Walker.

As A Woman, Ms. Chien-Pott used the Graham signature contractions and releases to sharp, staccato dissonance and rhythms. She mesmerized the audience with her driven dance, including endless leg extensions, some straight toward the rafters, with tremendous tension and technical prowess. Ms. Diamond-Walker, as Her Attendant, as well, was fascinating, although more deliberate and languid in motion. Hérodiade is a sophisticated, thought-provoking work, balancing two women’s internalized struggles, of loss of wonder and self-reflection. Ms. Diamond-Walker and Ms. Chien-Pott were well cast for this psychological study, set to Hindemith. Isamu Noguchi’s set, of a mirror of bleached bones, for A Woman to face her mortality, was quintessentially Graham genre. I would like to see this work again next season.

Deo (World Premiere): Choreography by Maxine Doyle and Bobbi Jene Smith, Music by Lesley Flanigan, Costume by Karen Young, Lighting by Yi-Chung Chen, Performed by a women’s ensemble of eight. This new, eloquent dance composition, by Ms. Doyle and Ms. Smith, was one of my favorite works of this season. The imagery is of women huddled in shimmering silk, in a golden glow, dim like the underworld of Hades, where Persephone, daughter of Demeter, goddess of the harvest and fertility, is doomed to live for six months each year, at the hands of Hades.

Lights flash on and off, showcasing the women in a change of mood, motion, and motif. One can only assume the lights flash on after each six-month saga with Hades. This, like Graham’s oeuvres, including the above modern ballet, is introspective, challenging the mind. The score, electronic and pulsing, is by Lesley Flanagan. I would like to revisit this work, as well, except I’d love to see it with a new score, one with resonant, taut tonality, maybe a string quartet or chamber trio. Karen Young’s costumes and Yi-Chung Chen’s lighting were exquisite.

I Used to Love You (2017): Choreography by Annie-B Parson, Sound Design by Tei Blow, Text by Will Eno, Video by Jeff Larson, Costumes by Oana Botez, Lighting by Nick Hung, Co-directed by Aaron Mattocks, Performed by an ensemble of seven. I have no need to see this Annie-B Parson ballet again, as, like Lamentation Variations, a few years ago, it mocks the legacy of Graham, not in a good-natured way. As the only piece after intermission, too much import was put on such, in my opinion, an insignificant work.

The program notes tell us that Graham’s 1941 Punch and The Judy, that referenced original Punch and Judy shows, with marital infidelity and anger as satire, was the catalyst for Ms. Parson’s creativity here. Lorenzo Pagano is the unfaithful husband, Xin Ying is the wife, speaking in a Chinese dialect, So Young An is the daughter, and Laurel Dalley Smith, Anne O’Donnell, and Leslie Andrea Williams are a Greek Chorus of three women. They all speak into a microphone, to Will Eno’s minimalist, dry-humored text. Some level of dance ensues, mostly slapstick, evocative of the puppet show referenced. I would love to see Graham’s original 1941 work instead, on its own.

Kudos to Martha Graham.

Martha Graham Dance Company
in Martha Graham’s "Secular Games"
Courtesy of Melissa Sherwood

Lloyd Mayor, Lloyd Knight,
Alessio Crognale
in Martha Graham’s "Secular Games"
Courtesy of Luis Luque

PeiJu Chien-¬Pott
in Martha Graham’s "Hérodiade"
Courtesy of Brian Pollock

Martha Graham Dance Company
in Maxine Doyle and
Bobbi Jene Smith’s "Deo"
Courtesy of Brian Pollock

Lorenzo Pagano and Xin Ying
in Annie-B Parson's "I used to love you"
Courtesy of Brigid Pierce

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