A Conversation with Lloyd Mayor, a Dancer with the
Martha Graham Dance Company
Press: Janet Stapleton
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 7, 2015
(See Graham Company Reviews and Interviews)
(Lloyd Mayor Bio from Graham Website)
I sat down with Lloyd Mayor tonight, a Dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company, to discuss his roles in the coming two weeks at The Joyce Theatre, where the Graham Company will have its New York Season. We met at Mustang Sally's, on Seventh Avenue, between 28th and 29th Streets and chose a comfortable booth. Mustang Sally's is a spacious dining pub, in the Mustang Group, which includes Mustang Harry's, Seven (both one block north), and Jack's (West 40th St., Bdwy./7th). Lloyd, who has lived in London, was dressed in a very British shirt. He ordered a Classic Sally's Burger with Cheese, and I had Linguine with Fresh Vegetables. I had recently met Lloyd at a reception after The Clive Barnes Awards ceremony, where, as a former recipient of their Dance Award, he was onstage, offering remarks about his career and the Award's personal meaning.
REZ: Why did you choose the Graham Company over so many others in New York and London? Are you particularly drawn to the drama and myths, or was there another element of the Graham genre that riveted your imagination?
LM: I chose the Graham Company because I had no other choice! It was a true calling that I had to fulfill, which I'm still doing of course! All other work at the time felt so banal compared to Graham's work, as I see it as utterly enlightening to this day. Her movement was the truth. As a teenager, you recognize what's reality in your heart.
I am indeed drawn to the myths that Graham presents, but the element that riveted my imagination was the way she dealt with emotion...human, raw and universal emotions and feelings, such as joy, sorrow, shame, guilt and love. I am deeply interested in how they affect one’s psyche and soul. What is it in Jocasta that really made her kill herself, and why is there such a beauty and vulnerability in the idea of a tragedy?
REZ: There are many dancers and choreographers who have interpreted Graham's "Lamentation", creating the newer "Lamentation Variations". Since you will dance in more than one Variation this season at the Joyce, is there one version that you prefer or find more intriguing? For me, I've always preferred the original Graham work, danced in the stretch purple fabric, as an exemplification of a woman in grief, yet I remain open-minded to ongoing Variations.
LM: I must say that all new Variations can't really be compared, since the background of each choreographer is so different, and one, I think, should be open to the suggested interpretations of every artist!
Having said that, I personally find myself very receptive to Michelle Dorrance's Variation, as she has chosen to apply Graham's “Lamentation” onto the problems, discrimination, and violence of today's world, as, yet again, so many of Graham's pieces can be a protest and awakening of today's issues, such as “Heretic”, which could be about the deep repression of women in Palestine, or “Chronicle”, which could very much be about the deep emotional isolation people are feeling all over the world. But, coming back to Dorrance's Variation, she has actually chosen a man (Lloyd Knight) to be the center of the theme, and I find that refreshing, as it is not just women who feel grief or injustice.
REZ: I see that the new work, "Rust", by Nacho Duato, is scored to Arvo Pärt's music, a composer I've always adored, in ballet and in live chamber performances. What is your particular take on the mood and motif of "Rust"? I find Duato's choreography intense and visually captivating.
LM: The Pärt music is a men's choir, like a deep Gregorian chant. His choreography is certainly intense!! I saw almost all of Nacho's process in the making of “Rust”, and I just found that the way he arranged the dancers and worked with them was so thoughtful and sensitive. He clearly knew how Graham dancers would naturally move and applied it to the choreography. To be honest, I am still getting to know the piece, as I will be performing it for the first time this season, but I am enjoying the experience for sure!
REZ: Last March, within my review of "Echo", I wrote, "the choreography is wild and wanton, with leaping in circles, wild swirling, and dancers falling on one another (in an ensemble of ten)." You danced the role of Narcissus. Is this your role again? Will you expand on last season's debut interpretation? If so, in what form or intent?
LM: This piece has been a roller-coaster; It’s a lot about energy. I will indeed be performing “Echo” as Narcissus again this season, and I have grown so much in this role, well, I certainly feel it within my spirit! The dancers of the Company have now total ownership of the piece, in terms of movement and artistry, and I am so delighted to expand and grow with everyone on this piece, as it never left the repertoire throughout the year, so it is almost on its one year anniversary!
For this year I want to expand into the depth of Narcissus's story, even though Andonis' piece is an abstract form of the story, I wish to break through new grounds, by connecting the feelings related to the movements, as this piece truly brings me into altered states of consciousness and enlightenment!
REZ: I am not familiar with Graham's "Letter to the World", from which "At Summer's Full" is drawn. How does this dance develop, without giving away surprises. Very briefly, what storyline or dilemma do you focus on, in this role?
LM: "Letter to the World” is a truly magnificent work of art that was created in 1940, composed by the wonderful nationalist composer, Hunter Johnson, that derives from a famous Dickinson poem, who happens to be one of my favourite poets. Janet Eilber created and conceived “At Summer’s Full”, which is, in a way, a toned down but dashing excerpt of the original piece. However, “At Summer's Full” does have its own, completely different feel. Janet has focused on the New English 19th Century-like parties, where the men charm or gently flirt with the women as they dance and twirl around each other. It reminds me of Edith Wharton's “The Age of Innocence” somehow!!
REZ: In "Diversion of Angels", are you dancing the male role in The Couple in Red that Maurizio Nardi danced in 2013? I recall he was leaving the Company. Have you since danced any of his other roles?
LM: Yes, I get to dance the man in red in “Diversion of Angels”, which is such a fun and lyrical role to dance! The roles that I am dancing from Maurizio are the man in red and his place with the men of “Rust”.
REZ: Briefly, what are your short term goals for your dance career? I loved your Graham company performance in "The Show" (Achilles Heels). Richard Move used really daring, comedic drama. Have you taken this on the road? I think it would be a huge hit on You Tube, or maybe it is already.
LM: Short term? Well, certainly dive in more and more into the wonderful and mystical world of Graham; I just can’t get enough of it. Just when I think I understood everything about her, she comes and awakens me again...quite a lady!!!
Having said that, I believe that “Achilles Heels” is the most life giving role that an artist has yet given me, and I wish we could perform it again, but the piece was really made and suited for the season of 2013!
REZ: If you could call the late, great Martha Graham now, what would you tell her?
LM: Martha, my very dear Martha...we are doing the very best we can, and we are keeping calm and carrying on :), and I would have to ask her...what animal has she reincarnated into?
Lloyd Mayor, Dancer with the
Martha Graham Dance Company
and Lloyd's Classic Sally's Burger with Cheese
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower
Roberta's Linguine with Vegetables
at Mustang Sally's
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower