BWW Reviews: Graham II NY Season - Essential Martha Graham and Much More
Graham II, the dance troupe for the Martha Graham School of Dance, celebrated their New York Season at Graham Studio Theater from June 14th to the 16th. The open floor performance space worked perfectly for the dancers; the guests appreciated the close viewing opportunity.
Audience members hoping to see vintage Graham pieces were not disappointed. In addition, new works were presented that insure that the Graham's legacy is being fulfilled by the many talented people in the organization that represent her iconic style.
The evening opened with Secular Games, a piece danced by Graham II's five male dancers. Their grace, strength, and athleticism were evident during the interplay that developed throughout the dance. The piece was an excerpt from an original 1962 Martha Graham choreography, "Play with Thought-On a Socratic Island."
Secular Games was followed by Vientos, a dance thoughtfully choreographed by Oliver Tobin and nineteen dancers of the Young Artists Program(YAP). The dancers' studies were inspired by the characters and stories of Martha Graham's Clyternnestra. The talented youth displayed the true passion for their art that is characteristic of the YAP students who are trained in Graham technique.
Vientos was followed by Cortege of Eagles. The context for this suite of excerpts, originally choreographed by Martha Graham in 1967, flowed nicely. The Captive Women of Troy was a classic Graham chorus while The Warriors maintained the much needed continuity of the piece. Staged by the Director of the Martha Graham School, Virginie Mechene, the soloists, Gildas Lemmonier and Charlotte Landreau were well selected, as were the dancers who performed the duet, Jaclyn Rea and Lorenzo Pagono.
Rounding out the first half of the program was Unity-An Excerpt from Mandala Project (2011) , choreographed by Kun-Yang Lin. Lin, the guest choreographer is the founder of Kun-YangLin/Dancers, now based in Philadelphia. The dancers moved seamlessly through the piece evoking the themes set out by Lin including the exploration of contemporary issues to negotiate cultural identity in a pluralistic society and the enrichment of persons through disciplined practices that elevate the spirit.
After a brief intermission, the second half of the program was a presentation of the Martha Graham choreography, Acts of Light (1981). With stunning costumes by Halston and Martha Graham, the piece featured three parts, Conversation of Lovers, Lament, and Ritual to the Sun. In Conversation of Lovers, The Guest Soloist, Mariya Dashkina Maddux of the Martha Graham Dance Company, performed a flawless dramatic, romantic duet with Lorenzo Pagano. Lament, which featured Charlotte Landreau, was once again a welcome opportunity to experience vintage Graham. Ritual to the Sun was a perfect piece to finish to Graham II's New York Season as it featured all of the members of the Graham II dance troupe moving in perfect unison.
The abundant talent of the Graham II dance troupe was well demonstrated as they performed one of their first seasons in their new downtown space, The Graham Studio Theater on Bethune Street.
Photo: Lorenzo Pagano and Charlotte Landreau Photo Credit: Paul B. Goode