MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY
April 8, 2022
At a time of great unrest, and only 3 years until the start of World War II, Martha Graham's 1936 "Chronicle" stood as a fierce manifesto rejecting the rise of fascism in Europe. Unnervingly aprt for our time as well.Despite the all-femlae cast, there's nothing delicate or pretty about these warrior women pounding their feet, and slashing, angular arms against leaps propelling them to freedom.
The youthful Graham dancers plunge into politically charged Chronicle particularly the determined and stately Leslie Andrea Williams who fans her full skirt exposing the blood red bottom under the black sheath in the "Spectre" (created in 1914--the start of World War I). Section II, "Steps in the Street:Devastation--Homelessness -- Exile" finds a fine and intense Marzia Memoli commanding the throng of dancers demanding everyone be attentive.
Leslie Andrea Williams and Memoli announce "Prelude to Action: Unity--Pledge to the Future" which draws together the fiery female corps resolving the fear and devastation into hope and determination. A masterwork, it's difficult to catch your breath after this piece, let alone absorb works of lesser power.
Prior to the performance, Artistic Director and former Graham dancer, Janet Eilber welcomed the audience to the company's more than 5 decade history. Importantly, Eilber concisely delivers brief notes on the dances, contextualizing them for the benefit of everyone. Over the years, Eilber has mastered the art of enhancing the public's understanding of Graham's creations and the company's forays into new choreography.
This season, the Graham Company commissioned the creation of a new work inspired by the themes of Graham's 1952 work Canticle for Innocent Commedians organized by Sonya Tayeh, and featured sections contributed by Dristina and Sade Alleyne (Earth), Jenn Freeman (Water), Juliano Nunes (Fire), Micaela Taylor (Stars), and Yin Yue (Death) Sir Robert Cohan's Wind. Although much of dance is lost in time, Graham's Moon section survived in a film and takes its place among the newer sections.
A popular choreographer, Hofesh Shechter’ frenzied Cave steps into the Graham repertory. Daniil Simkin (former ABT dancer) serves as creative producer and performs in the crowd-pleasing closer.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis