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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

Joyce Theater Program

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

Photo Credit: Mary Blanco

Press Release From
Jonathan Marder + Associates


From June 8 until June 13 the Martha Graham Dance Company will present eight
performances at The Joyce Theater featuring four remarkable programs, each combining new commissions with classics. Premiers include a re-conceived staging of American Document (2010) directed by Anne Bogart, created and performed by the Martha Graham Dance Company and SITI Company, and Dance is a Weapon. The classics Appalachian Spring, Panorama, and Sketches from
‘Chronicle’ will also be performed. This season launches the Company’s 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.”

American Document (2010) premiering on opening night is not a dance by Martha Graham, but it is closely tied to one of her seminal works, American Document from 1938. American Document (2010) is a theatrical piece directed by Anne Bogart for six actors from SITI Company and ten Graham dancers. Using filmed excerpts, written descriptions and Graham's handwritten notes, Bogart and
playwright Charles L. Mee have reinvented American Document for the 21st century by incorporating text from a variety of sources including Walt Whitman's poetry and blogs from American soldiers in Iraq. The work, which includes speaking and dancing by all the performers, probes the same issues as Graham's original: what is an American?

American Document (2010) will be followed by Martha Graham’s 1936 masterwork Sketches from ‘Chronicle’ on the evenings of June 8, 11, 12 and 13.

Dance is a Weapon will premiere on June 9. This multimedia montage envisioned by Janet Eilber is based on an exhibit created by Victoria Geduld with text, images and media by Ellen Graff, Victoria Geduld and Nancy Stevens, and presents dances from the 1920s and 1930s by Graham and her contemporaries. Dance is a Weapon opens with a solo by Isadora Duncan: The Revolutionary. It is a
rallying cry -- inspiring action and courage. This is followed by three other seminal solos of the era:
Tenant of the Street by Eve Gentry (a portrait of a homeless woman – downtrodden but defiant); I Ain’t Got No Home (from Dust Bowl Ballads) by Sophie Maslow (a solo evoking the displaced people of the Dust Bowl Era, bowed by circumstances but determined to move on); and Time is Money by Jane Dudley (a powerful statement against “the machine” of commerce).

These solos will be followed by Panorama, a work by Graham from 1935 that speaks of the power of the people to take social action. The cast for Panorama at The Joyce will be thirty-three high school students from all over New York City chosen for these performances by a city-wide audition process.

The Dance is a Weapon montage will conclude with Graham’s “Steps in the Street” and “Prelude to Action,” two sections of her work Chronicle from 1936. Eilber notes, “This is the same year Martha turned down Hitler’s invitation to perform at the International Arts Festival running concurrent with the Olympic games in Berlin.” Performed by the women of the Company, “Steps in the Street”
evokes the devastation and isolation that war leaves in its wake while “Prelude to Action” suggests a response.

Dance is a Weapon will be followed by the work Graham created in 1944 as her contribution to the war effort, Appalachian Spring, on the evening of June 9 and the matinee on June 13.

On June 10, the Company will present a program that celebrates Graham classics: Panorama, Appalachian Spring, Lamentation Variations, and Sketches from ‘Chronicle’.

Lamentation Variations commemorates the anniversary of 9/11 and premiered on that date in 2007. The work opens with a film from the early 1930s of Martha Graham dancing movements from her then new, and now iconic, solo, Lamentation. The variations that follow were developed by choreographers Larry Keigwin, Richard Move and Bulareyaung Pagarlava. Each created a choreographic sketch of their reaction to the Graham film. Originally to be performed one night
only, the audience reaction to Lamentation Variations was such that it has been added to the permanent repertory of the Martha Graham Dance Company and new variations have been commissioned.

The June 12 matinee will include the premieres of three new dances based on the original Graham American Document. Three choreographers (all leading dancers with the Martha Graham Company) have been paired with three composers to create new American Document “Episodes.” They have chosen text that speaks to the American experience and that will be woven into the dancing. The
composers are creating music with specific instrumentation that relates to the original score for American Document. Graham II, the Graham Center’s pre-professional company, will be featured in the new Episodes. The choreographers are Tadej Brdnik, Samuel Pott and Blakeley White-McGuire. They are paired respectively with composers Patrick Leonard, Allen Krantz and Daniel Bernard

The Martha Graham Dance Company is exploring new and creative ways to connect Graham’s extraordinary legacy to today’s audiences. While the company offers world-class performances of the core collection of Graham masterworks, it also continues to take on innovative projects that honor Martha Graham’s appetite for the new.

The Graham season programming includes a great range of creative events including multimedia enhancement; classic works from Graham’s contemporaries; a Graham masterwork performed by thirty-three high school students from all over New York City; three premieres by emerging choreographers and important composers; performances of seminal Graham masterpieces; and a
major new dance/theater work which will premiere on opening night.









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