MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY
April 14, 2018
This year the Martha Graham Dance Company invited Lar Lubovitch to create a piece on the company and awarded him the 2018 Martha Graham Award for Lasting Impact to the Field of Dance. Celebrating his company’s 50 anniversary, Lubovitch graciously accepted the award from Graham Artistic Director Janet Eilber, noting that one of his first teachers was Martha Graham.
Contrary to Graham’s more angular, percussive vocabulary, Lubovitch’s The Legend of Ten to a melodious score by Johannes Brahms drew on the dancers lyricism. More than anybody, Lubovitch is a child of Doris Humphrey. Her influential book on “The Art of Making Dances” (1958) instructed generations of dancers on the building blocks of choreographing dance. Lubovitch has assimilated Humphrey's theories, particularly the concept of movement progressions. Perfectly comfortable in Lubovitch’s abstract, but emotionally potent phrases, the eight dancers executed steps that built on one another like waves. Brahms lyrical phrases are visualized through the liquid, free-flowing gestures.
Originally built around a couple in 1999, Lucinda Childs' Histoire was a duet created to a score by Krzysztof Knittel. The current version added music by Astor Piazzolla and grew to eight dancers. In this revised version “Histoire” looked like an “unplugged" Childs—employing a much looser choreographic approach than her historically mathematical dances that followed grids and movement maps.
Martha Graham’s 1958 Embattled Gardendescends into the Garden of Eden. Surrounded by Isamu Noguchi’s mystical structures and live music (score by Carolos Surinach), the ensemble composed of Anne O’Donnell, Lloyd Knight, Leslie Andrea Williams and Lorenzo Pagano, appeared well rehearsed. However, the actual psychic drama inherent in the friction between Adam and Eve, the serpent-like Stranger and Lilith has waned over the years. Within the dramatic structure expressing rage, jealously, and desire one is also reminded of Graham’s choreographic spareness—very postmodern.
It bears noting that the Martha Graham Dance Company’s opening night program only included one Graham work. More Graham works will appear throughout the brief season including “Panorama” and Graham’s take on “The Rite of Spring.”
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis