BWW Reviews: Martha Graham Dance Company Mixes Old and New Flavors
Watching a notable prolific choreographer's company perform two of her historic masterpieces is always a treat. Even more flavorful is when these pieces surround the main course of a world premiere created by a new star in the dance world. Judging from the packed house's resounding applause, it will go down in the minds of many as a decadent meal of modern dance.
Recently New York City Center welcomed back to its grand stage the Martha Graham Dance Company. This was another high profile appearance that was almost in jeopardy due to Superstorm Sandy's destruction of its sets and previously well preserved costumes. The production, Myth and Transformation, not only brought back a Graham classic but also a premiere by Nacho Duato.
Nacho Duato's piece--only five weeks old--was thrilling to see alongside Graham's legendary works "Appalachian Spring" and "The Rite of Spring". Despite its modernity, "Depak Ine" clearly employs the Graham technique just in a new vernacular. All three pieces call upon universal emotions while bringing the audience to distinct times and places: the pioneer's promising American West, a future world of uninhibited creatures and a Russian village in the distant past.
"Appalachian Spring" began the program on a promising note as the audience was drawn in by the gracious and hopeful bride, Mariya Dashkina Maddux, and the steadfast husbandman, Lloyd Mayor. Their dedication to each other and the potential of a greater future in the American West can be translated across time to fit any context. The peculiar gestures at work in this piece do not make it inaccessible but rather suggest that these characters are simply speaking in a different language. These stylized motions were most clearly spoken by the preacher, played by Maurizio Nardi who, after 12 years with the company, will be leaving to pursue other ventures. The standing ovation he received, as well as the bouquet immediately gifted to him by Dashkina Maddux, shows that his resolute manner and charisma will be missed.
After an expectedly enjoyable piece, Nacho Duato's "Depak Ine" brings a punch of flavor to the evening. The dancers are physically in command as they distort their bodies in insectile ways and forcefully drag one another around the space. The frequent and increasingly frantic entrances and exits of six dancers add to the drama. A single ominous body lies face down in a downstage corner.