Monday, November 05, 2007

Martha Graham Dance Company

MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY pleases its audience!

Martha Graham is considered by most dance aficionados to be the queen of concert dance. Along with George Balanchine and Merce Cunningham, she laid the foundations for non-balletic dance in this country. Years after her death, her works still glow and inspire.

Her company recently performed in Cleveland under the sponsorship of Dance Cleveland, Cuyahoga Community College and Playhouse Square Center. The two concerts each had a different set of offerings. Opening night consisted of ‘ERRAND INTO THE MAZE,’ ‘ARDEN SONG (REDUX),’ ‘DIVERSION OF ANGELS’ and ‘ACTS OF LIGHT.’ With the exception of ‘ARDENT SONG’ each segment was well conceived and performed.

Using Graham’s powerful, athletic, gymnastic forms, which utilizes the floor as well as the space above it, ‘ERRAND INTO THE MAZE’ complete with robotic moves, created a power illusion in which every movement was in perfect sync with the musical notes of Gian Carlo Menotti. It was masterfully danced by Miki Orihara and Tadej Brdnik.

The actual choreography of Graham’s ‘ARDENT SONG’ has been lost, so Susan McLain reconceived the movements. While using many of Graham’s tools (powerful and sensual movements, gymnastic leaps and writhing on the floor) ,the piece missed the expected power of the original conceiver. The conclusion was met with courteous applause by the sold out audience.

‘DIVERSION OF ANGELS,’ using geometric patterns of movements, successfully explored mature, erotic and adolescent love.

‘ACTS OF LIGHT,’ based on the Emily Dickinson poem which states, “Thank you for all the acts of Light which beautified a summer now past to its reward,” was a three-part creation which creatively examined a conversation of lovers, a lament, and a ritual to the sun.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: Martha Graham Dance Company lived up to its world class reputation and advanced billing. Dance Cleveland and CCC are to be commended for bringing major dance companies to the area. It must have been gratifying for the sponsors to see a sold out house for the opening of the season.