MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY
March 19, 2012
The lovely Mariya Dashkina Maddux glows on stage, her trembling hands rising towards the sole spotlight beaming upon her in “Allegro Misterioso” from Anna Sokolow’s Lyric Suite.
In this fleeting yet intensely driven solo, Maddux’s feet bourrée in tandem with the hurried music of
Artistic Director Janet Eilber welcomes the audience to the wrap up of Martha Graham Dance Company’s 85th
anniversary celebration just before the light hits three gowned women posed around a chess table. Deaths and
Entrances catapults us into the portrait of the Bronte sisters and their whirlwind world of shared nostalgia, fears
and longings. The dance theater piece embodies the dramatic depth that so colors Graham’s work, with nothing
lost in the in between moments of movement – also a testament to the maturity of the company’s dancers.
Before long the ladies’ lovers, or stirrings of “Prince Charming,” whisk each into stylized ballroom poses, only
to leave them alone to reconvene over their chess pieces.
A special treat in the program came with the presentation of three commissioned variations of the iconic piece,
Lamentation, one of which was a world premiere. The image of Graham enwrapped in her purple tube of fabric
floods the back drop; it is impossible to look away from her face – red lips and all – as she pulls the material to
the sides forming a triangle slit. “It is as though you are stretching inside your own skin” – the last words we
hear before Bulareyaung Pagarlava’s dancers enter. There is a gooey push and pull between the quartet’s semi-
naked, chiseled bodies in this variation. The sole female (Dashkina Maddux) steps apart under a warm glow,
soon to be swept up and flipped upside down by her companions as they slowly escort her upstage and out of
Yvonne Rainer’s world premiere takes the audience into a completely different, characteristically postmodern,
and comical direction. As Eilber previously noted, “Martha was one of many artists in her time fascinated with
angst,” yet Rainer’s curious set up – a wood box, a handheld spotlight, and a shredder, had this Graham-fan
audience giggling. The piece, triggered by an on-stage cough then echoed in the speakers, highlights Katherine
Crockett as a Graham-like figure, though simultaneously very unlike. Crockett’s large white T-shirt stretches
over her legs and an “I am bored out of my mind” look overtakes her face. Not even the beaming spotlight held
inches away from her, the shredder gobbling up sheets of paper, or a long stream of purple tulle draped over her
shoulder can seem to entirely distract her as she twists inside her shirt-cocoon. When ready, she rises and walks
away, offering us a quick wave right before a black out.
An ensemble of evening-dressed dancers spread along the stage for Larry Keigwin’s variation, including
Crockett in a stunning black dress. Twitchiness falls upon each; they touch their face and hair – sometimes in
an abstract manner, and other times in a more gestural way as if putting in contact lenses or fixing makeup. The
group hinges, their body weight shifting together, though the uniformity is only momentary as each breaks away
jerking in various directions, collapsing to the floor. A couple is left arm in arm, until the woman drops and the
man remains, hugging nothing.
To close the program, Blakeley White-McGuire begins an exquisite solo, “Spectre,” in Chronicle. She
transforms into a fiery goddess tossing her oversize black skirt, lined in red, while her long red hair flips,
accenting every fervorous contraction and release. As the company joins her, the piece continues in eager fury
complete with dozens of jumps, leaps, and lines of shifting angular poses.
The evening’s presentation of some of Graham’s most psychological works leaves the audience struck with the
committed power of the company’s distinct style. Martha Graham Dance Company was presented at The Joyce
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jennifer Thompson