MARTHA GRAHAM GALA
March 20, 2014
Janet Eilber, Martha Grhaham Dance Company Artistic Director, graciously welcomed the opening night gala audience at City Center while underscoring Martha Graham’s affinity for all things ancient Greek. Graham’s repertory is streaked with Greek myths and classical ideas about democracy and individual action.
In a special presentation, the Graham Company invited dancers from the Hellenic Dance Company to perform one of Graham’s invigorating early works “Panorama” along with members of Graham 2. Created in 1935 for the Bennington student females, lines of dancers course through circular and diagonals lines, thrusting their bodies up in jagged leaps, arms stretched straight up in defiance. The vividly dedicated young dancers stirred up feelings of strength derived in numbers and unified action.
Vengeance and heroism tear the mask off “Clytemnestra” -- Graham’s masterly dramatic 1958 work. In an effort to connect contemporary audiences to Graham’s interpretation of Greek myths, projected introductory supertitles offer a brief synopsis. An impressively fierce Clytemnestra, Katherine Crockett is surrounded by an emotive chorus of six black clad furies sporting widow’s peaks on their foreheads. They fly around in a circle, arms pulled back by the elbows; torsos hunched forward and legs split in the air. The excerpt reveals Graham’s profound understanding of a female’s ability to summon deep sensuality as well as a commanding force.
For his premiere, Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis gravitated to the theme of Narcissus in “Echo.” According to the Greek myth, the nymph Echo falls in loves with the beautiful Narcissus, who alas, falls in love with his reflection in a pool of water. As opposed to Graham’s stark, angular shapes, “Echo” celebrates curved, luscious, intersecting, swirling movements.
In a string of nonstop turns, air born pops and drops to the floor, “Echo” resembles the Aegean Sea in a state of excitement. Men and women in variously cut long skirts by Anastasios Sofroniou tangle in the ebb and flow of the currents that carry the image of Narcissus reflected in the water. Suggestive, melodically liquid music by Julien Tarride, flings the two attractive lead men, Lloyd Mayor and Lorenzo Pagano into a bonded image. They spin apart like constellations in nonstop motion around Echo, the nymph who fell in love with Narcissus, delicately portrayed by PeiJu Chien-Pott.
The evening also paid tribute to HRH Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia, Kitty P. Kyriacopoulos, and jewelry designer Ilias Lalounis. More of the repertory will be revealed the rest of the season at City Center.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis