Martha Graham Dance Company

Richard Perry/The New York Times

I was lucky enough to go see the Martha Graham Dance Company at the Joyce this weekend.  For those of you who don't know her story, Graham is considered one of the great pioneers of modern dance.  Seeing her work is literally like taking a step back in time.

The program that I saw included Cave of the Heart, From the Grammar of Dreams (a piece choreographed by Lucca Veggetti after the hurricane ruined the company's sets), Lamentations Variations, and Division of Angels.  Only Cave of the Heart and Division of Angels were original Graham pieces, and they were most certainly my favorite of the pieces.  I had never gotten the chance to see Graham's work performed before, and quickly found out that watching it was like taking a step back in time.  Part of that was probably because the costumes were a bit dated, but nevertheless, her style is something you just don't see anymore.  For me, Graham is a good mix between ballet and postmodern dance.  She has a great vocabulary of gestural movement mixed with the suspension and drama of balletic movement vocabularies.

Cave of the Heart opened the show with drama.  Reducing Medea down to only 4 dancers, this piece shows the emotional range the Graham vocabulary is capable of expressing.  That being said, however, I was confused as to which roles which of the three female dancers played.  That did not end up mattering, however, because the story was told regardless.  

I must say that Veggetti's piece really did not do much for me.  His style differed greatly from the Graham technique we had been watching all night, and it was too disjointed to follow, although I suspect that may have been the purpose.  The actual choreograph was beautiful, but it was just too stark of a contrast to the other works on the program.

The most interesting piece of the night was Lamentations Variations.  The Martha Graham Dance Company commissions from various composers different variations on the Graham's iconic solo "Lamentations."  For this performance, the company showed the variations by Varone, Pagarlava, and Rainer.  Her solo is very unique, and I was fascinated to see which elements the different choreographers decided to highlight in their variation.  

Division of Angels was definitely top of my list; it was happiness personified.  I spent the entire piece marveling at the strength and ease with which the dancers moved.  It ended the show and I am positive that no one left the theatre sad.  There really are no words to describe this piece, it was just pure happiness.

If you're interested in hearing another take on the evening's events, you can find the New York Times review here.

Also be sure to watch this video of "Lamentations", if you haven't seen it before!


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I'm Madysen, born and raised in Nebraska but now living out my dreams in New York City. I moved here to go to Columbia, but living in New York has become so much more to me. This blog is a space where I can share my experiences of reconciling my midwestern upbringing with the life I live in the city. But even bigger than that, this blog serves as a space where I can try to understand where I fit into the larger social world, where I want to go in life, and how I want to go about pursuing all of these endeavors.

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