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New York Cool - Ask Miss Wendy

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Martha Graham Dance Company
Political Dance Project
World Premiere of
American Document and
Dance Is a Weapon
Joyce Theater
June 8 - 13, 2010

Written by Wendy R. Williams
Photographed by Mary Blanco

Opposite Photo:
New York City High School Students in Panorama Part of Dance is a Weapon



There was a lot of excitement this spring in anticipation of Martha Graham's Political Dance Project. The company hosted two preview rehearsals and the Annual Gala (featuring performance pieces from the Political Dance Project) was held at Cedar Lake on May 19, 2010. All of this was a run up to the premieres of two new dance pieces, Dance is a Weapon, and a performance piece, American Document.

Here is a quote from the press release (Jonathan Marder + Associates) about the Political Dance Project: “We are highlighting the era of the 1930s when the nascent art form of American modern dance was fueled by the political and social activism of the time,” says Artistic Director Janet Eilber. “Modern dance took on the plight of the oppressed of all races and backgrounds. Dances were created as if ‘ripped from the headlines’ – with themes that aligned modern dance to the complex social concerns of the day including the financial crisis, civil rights, workers rights, and the rise of fascism in Europe. The performances at The Joyce will explore the issues of that time and how they reverberate today in the ongoing dialogue about who we are as a nation.”

 


Carrie Elmore-Tallitsch in Tenant of the Street
Part of Dance Is a Weapon

The Political Dance Project was inspired by the history of the Graham Company of the 1930's when the world was in chaos from the deprivation of the Great Depression and the rise of Fascism in Europe. In the 30's, Graham choreographed American Document and Chronicles as her response to the the political upheaval of the time. The Graham Company has revived these pieces from the 30's and reinterpreted them for 2010 by adding spoken word and film clips.

There were no definitive records of American Document, just some of Graham's notes and a few film clips. The Graham Company of 2010 recreated the choreography with the help of Anne Bogart's SITI Company and the written words of playwright Charles Mee (who used text from Walt Whitman and blogs from soldiers in Iraq). Six actors from the SITI Company and ten dancers from the Graham company both helped create and perform American Document.


Lloyd Knight in I Ain’t Got No Home (from Dust Bowl Ballads)
Part of Dance is a Weapon

Dance is a Weapon is a montage of dances from the 30's choreographed by Graham and her contemporaries The dances included: Isadora Duncan's The Revolutionary; Eve Gentry's Tenant of the Street; Ain't Got No Home from Dust Bowl Ballads by Sophie Maslow; and Jane Dudley's Time is Money. Also part of Dance is a Weapon was Panorama performed by thirty-three high school students selected by auditions throughout the city. Dance is a Weapon montage concluded with Steps in the Street and Prelude to Action, two sections from Chronicles.

Other dance numbers performed during the June run at the Joyce Theater were Chronicles, Appalachian Spring and Lamentation Variations.

I attended the performance on June 11th and saw American Document and Sketches from Chronicle. I had seen several pieces of the Political Dance Project during the Gala and the rehearsals. The performances were sharp and exciting. The audiences were entranced. The company was founded in 1926 and the magic is still there.

For more information about the Martha Graham Company, log onto marthagraham.org

For More Information: Click here for a copy of the press release from
Jonathan Marder + Associates

 


Lloyd Knight in I Ain’t Got No Home (from Dust Bowl Ballads)
Part of Dance is a Weapon


Lloyd Knight in I Ain’t Got No Home (from Dust Bowl Ballads)
Part of Dance is a Weapon


Carrie Elmore-Tallitsch in Tenant of the Street
Part of Dance Is a Weapon


Carrie Elmore-Tallitsch in Tenant of the Street
Part of Dance Is a Weapon


Carrie Elmore-Tallitsch in Tenant of the Street
Part of Dance Is a Weapon


New York City High School Students in Panorama Part of Dance is a Weapon


New York City High School Students in Panorama Part of Dance is a Weapon


New York City High School Students in Panorama Part of Dance is a Weapon


New York City High School Students in Panorama Part of Dance is a Weapon

Here is a quote from the press release (Jonathan Marder + Associates) about the Gala: "The honorary gala committee included Doo-Ri Chung, Anna Quindlen, Lesley Stahl and Faye Wattleton. Gala Co-Chairs are Victoria Geduld, Patrick Leonard and Calvin Tsao. The Gala committee includes LaRue and Archibald Allen, Edward and Magda Palacci Bleier, Amy and Philip Blumenthal, Anita Durst, Janet Eilber and John Warren, Beth and Rob Elliott, Victoria and Buzzy Geduld, Laura J. Gordon and Michael Mishik, Inga and Frank Golay, Lisa Resling Halpern, Peggy Lyman Hayes and Richard Hayes, Christine Jowers and Rob Friedman, Lena Kaplan, Deborah Kramm, Madeleine Kristofferson and John Ray, Patrick Leonard, Lorraine and John Oler, Adam and Judith Pinsker, Neila and Jeffrey Radtke, Judith and Herbert Schlosser, Paul Szilard, Lee and Marvin Traub, Calvin Tsao, Ronald Windisch and Janice Stanton and Inger K. Witter.

Noted guests included designer Josie Natori, former Martha Graham Dancer Peggy Lyman, designer Doo-Ri Chung, Faye Wattleton and architect Calvin Tsao."

 

 

 



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