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Juilliard Dances Repertory Performs Masterworks by Martha Graham & Merce Cunningham, Now thru 3/28

Juilliard Dances Repertory presents masterworks by acclaimed choreographers Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. Juilliard dancers perform Martha Graham's Dark Meadow and Merce Cunningham's BIPED. Aaron Sherber will conduct the Juilliard musicians performing the music live with the dancers for Dark Meadow.

Juilliard Dances Repertory performances take place tonight, March 25 at 8 p.m.; Thursday, March 26 at 8 p.m.; Friday, March 27 at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, March 28 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Juilliard's Peter Jay Sharp Theater.

Tickets for $30 are available at or at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard. Tickets for Juilliard students are free; non-Juilliard students may purchase tickets for $15, only at the Juilliard Box Office.

"I am thrilled to bring this amazing and challenging repertory to our Juilliard dance students, as well as to the general public," remarked Lawrence Rhodes, artistic director of Juilliard's Dance Division. "It is about time we saw these remarkable dances again."

Martha Graham's Dark Meadow, completed in 1946 with music of Carlos Chávez and sets by Isamu Noguchi, is one of Martha Graham's most psychological and abstract works. The work premiered on January 23, 1946 at New York's Plymouth Theater. It was commissioned by the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation of the Library of Congress and originally was to premiere along with Appalachian Spring in 1944, but the composer was unable to deliver the score in time for the performance. The action of Dark Meadow centers around the three main characters - "The One Who Seeks," originally danced by Graham; "She of the Ground," and "He Who Summons"; and an intricately-danced chorus. John Martin wrote of its premiere (The New York Times, January 24, 1946): "What she has done is a miracle of sheer invention, but invention not in an intellectual plane, but in the subjective level of pure intuition." The work will be staged by Juilliard faculty member Terese Capucilli, a former principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company for 26 years.

Merce Cunningham's BIPED was premiered by the Gavin Bryars Ensemble with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company on April 23, 1999 at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA. A shimmering dance to a mesmeric score by Gavin Bryars, BIPED is a technically intricate work involving projected artwork by Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar derived from a unique motion capture process devised in collaboration with the choreographer. Of the movement itself, Merce Cunningham has written: "The dance gives me the feeling of switching channels on the TV...The action varies from slow formal sections to rapid broken-up sequences where it is difficult to see all the complexity." The work is staged by Jennifer Goggans and Jean Freebury, Juilliard's Cunningham teacher.

The Juilliard Dance Division, now in its 63rd season, is a groundbreaking conservatory dance program whose faculty and alumni have changed the face of dance around the world. The program was established in 1951 by William Schuman during his tenure as president of Juilliard with the guidance of founding director Martha Hill. It became the first major teaching institution to combine equal dance instruction in both contemporary and ballet techniques. Among the early dance faculty members at Juilliard were Alfred Corvino, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, José Limón, Anna Sokolow,
Antony Tudor, and Hector Zaraspe.

Ballet master and master teacher, Lawrence Rhodes, was appointed the artistic director of the Juilliard Dance Division in July 2002. Now in his 13th year as director, he has reordered the curriculum and elevated requirements for the diploma and degree programs at Juilliard. He has increased the number of performances and brought in many prominent choreographers to work with the students. Graduates of the program have gone on to perform with virtually every established contemporary and ballet dance company in the United States and abroad, and they also are among the directors and administrators of respected companies worldwide. This season, there are 99 students enrolled in Juilliard's Dance Division.

Alumni of Juilliard's Dance Division include Robert Battle, Pina Bausch, Martha Clarke, Mercedes Ellington, Robert Garland, Charlotte Griffin, Kazuko Hirabayashi, Adam Hougland, Saeko Ichinohe, Loni Landon, Jessica Lang, Lar Lubovitch, Bruce Marks, Susan Marshall, Austin McCormick, Andrea Miller, Ohad Naharin, and Paul Taylor.

Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

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