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BWW Review: Martha Graham Dance Company's EMBATTLED GARDEN


As part of an on-going series, "GrahamDeconstructed," the Martha Graham Dance Company presented an intimate showing at the Martha Graham Studio Theater of the iconic piece Embattled Garden, Graham's wry meditation on love's strife inspired by the story of Adam and Eve, with music by world-renowned composer, Carlos Surinach. Through this series, audience members have a rare opportunity to experience the inside workings of a great American modern dance company.

Embattled Garden is based on the bible story of Adam and Eve with a twist, a technique often used by Graham in her choreography--using well-known stories with her own spin on them. Unlike the familiar tale of the Garden of Eden, this tells the story of the love between a husband and wife (Adam and Eve) and the struggles that can arise when an unsuspected visitor (The Stranger) can come in with the enticing knowledge of the outside world and the temptations of those with old knowledge (Lilith, who according to legend, was Adam's wife before Eve).

The evening began as soon as you took your seat, as a film of the original cast was playing as you walked in, which is used in the company's effort to reconstruct the piece in order to preserve and augment Graham's great legacy. Artistic Director, Janet Eilber, welcomed everyone with a brief background on the piece, followed by a demonstration of each of the characters to showcase their distinct movement qualities. The role of Adam, played by Lloyd Mayor, showcased his ability to be grounded and stunning strength to balance as he held particular poses and positions. Eve, played by Mariya Dashkina Maddux, portrayed emotions that were so strong that you could feel the struggle of her torn allegiance to her husband. Lilith's character, played by Lauren Newman, showcased Graham's Flamenco influence with her fast footwork and strong arms. The Stranger, played by Lorenzo Pagano, was so swift with his sly movements that you just couldn't take your eyes off him, especially with his effortless athleticism.

This piece is definitely a crowd pleaser! Regardless if you are religious, familiar with the story or not, it will leave you wanting more. I was actually disappointed when the lights dimmed, because I wanted them to keep going!

Embattled Gardens was first premiered April 3, 1958 at the old Adelphi Theater in New York City. The company will be touring this piece at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts and then up to Jacob's Pillow, which will launch their 90th Anniversary Season.

Photo Credit: Mariya Dashkina Maddux and Abdiel Jacobsen in Martha Graham's "Embattled Garden" Photo by Hibbard Nash Photography

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