Performing Arts: Dance
February 26, 2015
The Martha Graham Dance Company presented their NYC season at the Joyce Theater. Program B on Tuesday evening saw works from past and present, classic and novel. The evening opened with “Essential Shape and Design,” which included “Frontier,” (1935) and “Steps in the Street,” (1989). It of course comes as no surprise that these works were among the night’s highlights. These dancers breathe the Graham technique. Articulation and gesticulation is in prime form. Blakeley White-McGuire in “Frontier,” exudes a stoicism and quiet glamour that is sharp and succinct. Every step has the appropriate chin placement and focus, no step unfinished. “Steps,” offers Graham’s powerful feminist views with intricate stage design from Frank Gehry. Most notable in the Graham series was “Errand into the Maze,” a striking and passionate duet, based on the story of Ariadne and the Minotaur. It was in fine form Tuesday night, with a ferocity and refinement that rings synonymous with Graham and her legacy.

“Lamentation Variations,” closes the first half. Originally premiering in 2007, the piece commemorates the anniversary of 9/11. A mix of choreographers offer dance studies on Grahams famous “Lamentation.” Offerings from Michelle Dorrance, Liz Gerring, and Bulareyaung Pagarlava are used for Tuesday’s program. Dorrance, most well known for her tap dancing, uses the music and sound as her strength, with movement echoing the sound, complementing and building on top of each step. Gerring’s variation is more muted and subdued, cupped hands act as homage, a minimalist almost baroque feeling amplifies her subtleties. Pagarlava’s version is much more movement centric, with steps strung together in a wave like effect. However, nothing quite compares to the original.

Annie-B Parson’s “The Snow Falls in the Winter,” is the show’s weakest moment. Inspired by the absurdist play “The Lesson,” Snow is nothing short of absurd. A microphone, table, and books are just some of the props used. More theatrical than dance based, the piece uses movement patterns to lend a voice to the text. A dancer pauses on her tip toes, picks up the microphone and speaks. This pattern continues. The risk taking with the blending of elements is applause worthy. It’s a step out of the box for the Graham dancers. In the final moments a dancer explains how to write a thank you note while the others jump around her. It’s a step out of the box for Graham dancers, stretching their performance skills, but perhaps its not the right step.

The final piece of the night is Andonis Fonaidakis’ “Echo,” (2014). Inspired by the Greek myth of Narcissus and Echo the dancing is dramatic and fluid. Each movement stirs into the next. Add in the whipping of long draped skirts and the image is rather arresting.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY--Bailey Moon

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