Martha Graham meet Robert Wilson in snow on the mesa


last weekend mary and i had the opportunity to see the Martha Graham Dance Company perform at the Rose theater at Lincoln Center. mary wrote about Martha Graham performance on her blog and also about our weekend atthe Architectural Digest Design Show at Pier 94 along with The Artists Project at Pier 92.

i have never been involved with martha graham’s work nor seen the company perform before, yes i had performances of martha on film and tape but never the company live. i do know there have been all kinds of legal hassles about who owned the performance rights etc. always a dasterdly thing for any artist especially a performance artist, which dance is. who will remember your work if they never see it?

we were both excited and dressed for the occasion, mary in a black dress with black wraparound frock and shoes with zippers on them, i don’t remember what i wore but i wasn’t naked.

this evening the company was performing ‘Snow on the Mesa’ (portrait of martha) ‘a personal portrait of Martha Graham’ not seen since 1996 by Robert Wilson, it evokes the creative journey of the artist—“the path that chose her,” as Graham has said.

Maple Leaf Rag by Martha Graham her last complete ballet as the program notes ‘takes a sly look at the foibles of a contemporary choreographer and gently mocks the plight of the artist in the throes of creation.’ i wish i had the chance to see more of the companies repertory but life is so busy at times or is it that i am so slow.

i’ve always been amazed by Wilsons work ever since working on ‘einstein on the beach’ at the metropolitan opera house and thinking this is weird but haunting. what i did learn about wilson is that he participates in an interdisciplinary laboratory for the arts and humanities at the Watermill center on long island,  NY. this is so cool giving back to the young artistic community your experience and guidance, something i’ve always thought the great broadway musical composers should have done in order to help young composers achieve good quality american musicals.

we both liked the evenings performances but wilson is wilson and his hand was everywhere in ‘snow’ which i enjoyed. very dramatic for sure and in the style of graham with big black costumes and exceptional use of color or the lack of.

see a review of sorts in Art Fag City

the musical score which at times was nothing more than wind howling added or subtracted depending on your point of view. some of the lighting was breathtaking while at other times just functional, lots of use of follow spots, three i think at one point with some inspired use of color, as shown here

but none the less i sat there enjoying the tribute to graham’s lifes work. i do know one of the featured dancers with the company

Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch

who danced the Navaho Rug section with contractions and expansions galore and a few others who have traversed the graham world. if one wants to know more about Martha Graham’s life and artistic direction try to see Ovation TV show Martha Graham: The Dance Revealed

what for me was a distraction were the bouncing boobies, yes the nude top costumes are a distraction. don’t get me wrong i like exposed boobies but there are times and places for everything. bare boobies are a draw that’s for sure but i don’t think they help the dance.

as for nude dancers Martha Clarke’s dance Garden of Earthly Delights used full nude body tights which didn’t take anything away for the piece except the distraction of  private parts swinging in the breeze. everyone has their own take on this for sure.  right this way to see the egress. what ever gets them in the door.

but knowing how hard it is to keep a company running from my experience with the Jose Limon company and what Carla Maxwell has struggled with adding new choreographers and pieces to the companies repertory just to keep it interesting and current, now i love all of Jose’s work but i also tire of seeing the same thing over and over. what ever brings new people exposed to the work is positive.

so it is that dance has strange bedfellows at times. it’s an art form i love dearly and the world would be a harsher place without it.what i did do on our way out because i know some dance companies receive a fair amount of income from memorabilia was to buy the book ‘Acts of light’ by John Deane & Nan Cano. i’ve started to read it as is my habit before falling asleep. that’s not to say it’s a slow book it’s just my habit of reading.

see the nytimes review for the professional opinion, i am just a fan of dance as i don’t get paid for my opinions, oh well

jene

www.jeneyoutt.com

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