GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY Program B
November 1, 2021
The Graham company looks better than ever, as if covid did not happen to them at all. The
program was a perfect mix of Graham classics and excellent new work, and the dancers were
simply stunning. The proximity of the Joyce Theater stage made it all the more enjoyable to see the
clarity, beauty and commitment of the dancing.
The evening began with a powerful performance of Graham’s Steps in the Streets from 1936,
Graham’s response to rising fascism. An all-female work, the Graham women immediately set
the tone with their strong unison steps, clenched fists, and intense stares, sometimes looking
straight at us, clearly demanding action. Led by the beautiful and imposing Leslie Andrea
Williams, the work took on a new meaning with the current backdrop of political turmoil, BLM,
and long-overdue change.
In a stark contrast between powerful community and propelling
individual existence, the steady Jacob Larsen danced a solo with extended arms and swift
changes of direction, created in conversations with Sir Robert Cohan during and after covid, “in
the twilight of the choreographer’s life.” None of this was readily apparent in the sharp, angular
movement, which speaks to the ineffability of both movement and personal experience.
The biggest surprise of the evening for me was Treading, a duet created by Elisa Monte for the
Graham company in 1979, to music by Steve Reich. An image of amorphous life grows into the
full-bodied, sinewy Lloyd Knight, moving with stealth motion and bird-like arms. As he receded,
Marzia Memoli replaced him centerstage and executed her own unhurried, gorgeous solo floor
work, her articulate torso going from extreme contraction to extended arms back like a balletic
swan. Costumed in skin-colored unitards with smudges, the two reunited in a series of
gorgeous shapes and seamless partnering from some natural world, a slow, deliberate mating
dance, unlike nature, a union with stunning control.
Pam Tanowitz’s Untitled (Souvenir) is an homage to Graham, referencing lesser-known works,
and to my eye, some Cunningham and Balanchine too. The Noguchi-like set pieces and fabulous
Graham-esque costumes modernized by Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin of TOME, complemented
the intricate and absorbing world created by this melding of styles. Moments of buzzing and
others of stillness lived within asymmetrical structure dotted with very human moments, eye
contact, and connection – moments we all hunger for in today’s isolating, covid-limited, smart
Rounding out the program was an energizing performance of Graham’s Diversion
of Angels. The dancers moved with such fullness and joy they breathed new life into this classic
tribute to a woman’s love as it changes over time. From innocence to passion to wisdom and
back again, we felt the ups and downs of what it means to love, anew.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson