BWW Review: MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY at The Joyce through 4/14 for Enthralling Contemporary Dance
Get your tickets and get ready for an extraordinary contemporary dance experience. The Martha Graham Dance Company just opened their spring season at The Joyce Theater and they will be performing through April 14. With three programs offered, there are multiple opportunities for dance enthusiasts and many more to relish the talent, technique, imagination and evolution of the iconic troupe. Whether you are a long time fan, or wish to be a part of the Company's new audience, the spring season is a must-see.
In her opening night address, Janet Eilber, the Company's Artistic Director spoke to the full-house audience, "We are delighted to be back at the Joyce." She also commented, "We are very proud to be the oldest dance company in the United States, founded by Martha Graham in 1926." Eilber pointed out that the Company's EVE Project has commissioned significant works by female choreographers and that the current repertory also focuses on the power of women.
We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see Program A. It has a fine mix of Martha Graham's original works and inventive new pieces that honor the Graham legacy. The program opened with Secular Games, with choreography by Martha Graham; music by Robert Starer; and set and Lighting by Jean Rosenthal. This dance has three parts that include Play with a thought-on a Socratic Island; Play with a dream-on a Utopian Island; and Play-on any island. It is a fascinating, whimsical dance that depicts the antics and relationships of men and women. Secular Games is an ideal showcase for the grace, athleticism and charm of the Company.
The performance continued with the duet, Herodaide. This classic Graham piece premiered in October of 1944 at Library of Congress in Washington DC. The piece features choreography by Martha Graham; music by Paul Hindemith; set by Isamu Noguchi; and lighting adapted by Jean Yi-Chug Chen. The demanding role of A Woman was mastered by PeiJu Chien-Pott and the part of Her Attendant was beautifully performed by Natasha M. Diamond Walker. Herodaide is a dramatic, moving glimpse into a person's complex thoughts and emotions.
The first act concluded with DEO, making its World Premiere this season. DEO features choreography by Maxine Doyle and Bobbi Jene Smith; music by Lesley Flanigan, costuming by Karen Young; and lighting by Yi-Chung Chen. Dreamlike and eclectic, the choreographers took their inspiration from the classic myth of Demeter, goddess of the harvest and fertility and Persephone, her daughter who was abducted by Hades. Wonderfully performed, electronic music was the perfect compliment to the ingenious choreography.
In the second act, the audience was treated to I Used to Love You. This entertaining re-imagining of Martha Graham's 1941 comedy piece, Punch and The Judy shines bright. It has choreography by Annie-B Parson; sound design by Tei Blow; Text by Will Eno; Video by Jeff Larson; Costumes by Oana Batez; lighting by Nick Hung. It is Co-directed by Aaron Mattocks. The colorful, playful portrayal of infidelity and a changing family dynamic has a clever narrative by a three-woman Greek chorus and projections of Graham's Punch and The Judy. It was an excellent piece to close a superb evening of dance.
The ever-talented dancers of Martha Graham Dance Company include Principal Dancers: Peiju Chien-Pott Lloyd Knight, Ben Schultz, Xin Ying; Soloists: Natasha M. Diamond Walker, Charlotte Lndreau, Lloyd Mayor, Lorenzo Pagano, Anne Souder; and Dancers: So Young An, Laurel Dalley Smith, Jacob Larsen, Marzia Memoli, Anne O'Donnell, Leslie Andrea Williams, Alyssa Cebulski, Alessio Crognale, and Cara McManus.
The experience of viewing Martha Graham Company just keeps getting better. The Company has succeeded in honoring Martha Graham's groundbreaking creativity while bringing inspiring new voices and talents to the art of dance.
For more information on Martha Graham Dance Company at The Joyce Theater, please visit https://joyce.org/performances/martha-graham-dance-company.
To learn more about Martha Graham Dance Company, visit their web site at http://www.marthagraham.org/.
Photo Credit: Brian Pollock, Brigid Pierce, Melissa Sherwood