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Martha Graham Dance Company - Circe, Hérodiade, Errand into the Maze, Maple Leaf Rag

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 15, 2004
New York City Center
130 West 56th Street
(Audience Entrance is on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
(Entrance for Studios and Offices is on West 56th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019
212.247.0430

About the Author:

Martha Graham Dance Company - Circe, Hérodiade, Errand into the Maze, Maple Leaf Rag

(www.marthagrahamdance.org)

Martha Graham: Founder, Dancer, Choreographer
Terese Capucilli and Christine Dakin: Artistic Directors
Marvin Preston: Executive Director
Isamu Noguchi and Ming Cho Lee: Scenery Design
Beverly Emmons, Jean Rosenthal, David Finley, Steven L. Shelley: Lighting Design
Aaron Sherber: Music Director/Conductor
Kate Elliott: General Manager
David Pini: Company Manager
Melissa Caolo: Production Stage Manager
Beverly Emmons: Lighting Designer
Martha Graham, Halston, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren: Costume Design
Kenneth Topping: Interim Director, Martha Graham School
General Strategic Marketing, Ltd.,
Jonathan Marder/Martha Thomases: Publicity

Live Orchestra

Presented at City Center
(www.citycenter.org)
(See other Graham Company Interviews, Reviews and Photos)

Review by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 15, 2004

Circe (1963): Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham, Music by Alan Hovhaness, Set by Isamu Noguchi, Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Adapted by Beverly Emmons, Performed by Kenneth Topping as Ulysses, Virginie Mécène as Circe, David Zurak as Helmsman, Martin Lofsnes as Snake, Whitney Hunter as Lion, Christophe Jeannot as Deer, and Maurizio Nardi as Goat. Kenneth Topping was in splendid form as Ulysses in this highly erotic myth about bestialities and enchantments.

The cast, as Snake, Lion, Deer, and Goat seduced each other onstage and on high, as Noguchi's sets provided a climbing apparatus and walls to lean on and hang from. Mr. Zurak, as Helmsman, was well matched with Mr. Topping, and they steered the imaginary boat with its incredible oar in book-ended passages to open and close this work. Ms. Mécène as Circe was sensual and primitive, as Mr. Lofsnes' snarling snake, Mr. Hunter's muscular lion, and Mr. Nardi's angular goat leaped, crawled, and spun in this dream sequence of a dance. The man to watch, Christophe Jeannot, on his way to recreating Nijinsky's riveting charisma and stark animalism, was a pouncing and prancing deer with every internal and external muscle involved in this daring characterization. Circe is an exotic, yet elegant work, with depth and drama.

Hérodiade (1944): Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham, Music by Paul Hindemith, Set by Isamu Noguchi, Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Adapted by Beverly Emmons, Performed by Fang-Yi Sheu as A Woman and Katherine Crockett as Her Attendant. Ms. Crockett used the Graham signature contractions and releases to sharp, staccato dissonance and rhythms. Ms. Sheu, as a Woman in purple, mesmerized the audience with her driven dance, including endless leg extensions, some straight toward the rafters, with tremendous tension and technical prowess. Hérodiade is a work about the loss of wonder, about self-reflection. Ms. Sheu and Ms. Crockett were well cast for this psychological study.

Errand into the Maze (1947): (See January 22, 2003 Zlokower and Abrams Reviews). Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham, Music by Gian Carlo Menotti, Set by Isamu Noguchi, Original Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Adapted by Beverly Emmons, Performed by Elizabeth Auclair and Martin Lofsnes. With horns, stick, and ribbon-tied limbs, Mr. Lofsnes was the quintessential creature of fear. Ms. Auclair, as the woman combating fear, exuded increasing levels of confidence and fortitude, as she battled that who seemed stronger and who was eventually overcome and conquered to a crumpled heap of glistening limbs. Despair turned to determination, and Ms. Auclair never lost for one moment her possessed and obsessive will to survive.

Maple Leaf Rag (1990): (See January 22, 2003 Zlokower and Abrams Reviews). Choreography by Martha Graham, Music by Scott Joplin, Orchestrated by Aaron Sherber, Costumes by Calvin Klein, Lighting by David Finley, Performed by Miki Orihara, Tadej Brdnik, and the Company. Ms. Crockett, as the Woman in White, used her massive, long dress in the circular and comical fashion, for which it was designed. After the intense emotionality of the previous works, Maple Leaf Rag was a change of mood and motif.

I remember the 1990 premiere of this work, followed by the proud Ms. Graham onstage in her golden Halston, as she glowed with pride. I love hearing her taped, earthy voice at the onset of this dance. The Company was flawless and fanciful as they dashed and twirled and athletically utilized the joggling board set center stage. This is a colorful and crisp piece, structured to Joplin's rags and bound to leave the audience relaxed and upbeat.

Kudos to Martha Graham. Kudos to Martha Graham Dance Company.

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