Martha Graham Dancer 311.
(photo credit: John Deene)
Martha Graham Dance Company is celebrating its 85th season, making it the
longest surviving modern dance company. On its current tour it presented works
dating from 1936 onward, a bona fide trip down memory lane.
Revival of Embattled Garden
(1936) one can see the thin veins connecting the German expressionist dance of
Kurt Joss and Mary Wigman’s schools on early American modern
, which was also in the repertoire of
the young Batsheva company in the 1960s, carries a particular nostalgia for
local audiences. Its set, designed by sculptor Isamu Noguchi, influenced Israeli
set designers for two decades.
After playing the dramatic and despondent
Deaths and Entrances
(1943), based on entangled relationships of the three
Bronte sisters, the program ended on a high note with Maple Leaf Rag
to Scott Joplin’s beloved score – the last work Graham choreographed, not long
before her death.
The company performed that piece on an earlier tour in
Israel, yet it was still surprising to witness its vitality, optimism and humor,
scarcely seen in earlier works. It also pointed to changes that her famous
technique went through which mellowed her more rigid stylistic character over
The company has a strong group dancers. Yet many of the dances
are best appreciated for their contribution only in context of their era.
Although Graham was a major influence on modern dance, particularly in the
middle of the 20th century, the relevance of her works to contemporary dance had
diminished and her technique, which once revolutionized body perception, is now