Friday, March 11, 2005

REVIEW: Martha Graham Holds her Post

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After a two-year hiatus- -due to a nasty law suit-- Martha Graham Dance Company returns to the stage with full force and fresh faces. The program, jammed packed with Graham classics, featured works that dated from 1936 to 1958. In this particular cluster of works demonstrates Graham’s mastery of the architecture of emotion and her keen sense of body’s line.

Sketches from Chronicle (1936), Graham’s lament on war, proved the most powerful. The opening section, “Spectre-1914,” demonstrated Graham’s famous ability to extend the lines of the body with fabric. Soloist Elizabeth Auclair exuded a “larger than life” quality as she swirled her tremendous skirt. The sight of 17 statuesque women, draped in body-clinging black dresses, with their arms twisted around their deeply contracted spines, set a solemn mood. They cross the stage in a dirge-like stilted walk that speaks of longing and loss. If grief had a walk-- this would be it.

Diversion of Angels shows Graham’s “lite” side. Free of the usual angst, Diversion explores the innocence of love. Graham paints in bold strokes with each color representing a different aspect of love. Katherine Crockett danced the “woman in white” with a royal elegance. Virginie Mecene gave ample fire to “the woman in red” and Yuko Suzuki spent most of her time playfully airborne as the “woman in yellow.”

Errand in to the Maze (1947), danced with precision and passion by Alessandra Prosperi and Christophe Jeannot, showed off Graham’s finesse in re-telling Greek Myths. A spare, but effective set by Isamu Noguchi, framed the dance with intensity.

Embattled Garden (1958) reaches into biblical history to examine the life of Lilith, Adam’s first wife. Noguchi’s brightly colored and surreal set complements Graham’s economy of movement. The evening, presented by S.P. A., secured Graham’s post as the reigning icon of American modern dance.

Martha Graham Dance Company, presented by S.P.A., took place on Feb. 25, 2005 at Jones Hall.

This review originally appeared in The Houston Press online.