Martha Graham How-To

Article excerpt

LEARN AN EIGHT-COUNT FROM THE MODERN PIONEER'S DIVERSION OF ANGELS.

Diversion of Angels is one of modern dance legend Martha Graham's most iconic works. First performed in 1948, it showcases all of the major principles of Graham technique. Virginie Mécène, director of the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and artistic director of Graham II, walked Dance Spirit through an eight-count from the piece.

ABOUT DIVERSION OF ANGELS

"This work is all about love," Mécène says. "In the complete piece there are three couples: one representing young love, one representing passionate love and one representing mature love. The chorus dancers introduce each couple's duet - they turn the pages, so to speak. This particular eight-count is from a chorus section. The dancer should move like she's head over heels in love, with everything big and off-balance."

GRAHAM GLOSSARY

The Graham contraction: Deep contraction originating at the pelvis that causes the torso to react in a curve

The Graham spiral: Twisting of the torso around the spine

THE GRAHAM CUP

Martha Graham often used cupped hands in her works. The Graham cup is more than just a position. Mécène explains. "Your hands are doing a contraction of their own, related to the Graham contraction of the spine," she says. "They're connected to the center of your body."

FUN FACT

This step-by-step was photographed at Wesfbeth in Manhattan, a bidding with a long dance hstory Its top-floor dance studios were home to the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for many years m July, the Martha Graham Dance Center moved into the space

WATCH IT BEFORE YOU TRY IT. Graham technique is complicated, so before you test out this eightcount, visit dancespirit.com to watch Mécéne break it down with MGDC member Xiaochuan Xie.

1, and 2, and 3

Piqué out on your right foot , arriving in a side tilt with the left leg ot about 90 degrees and the head looking out to the right. At the same time, shoot your right arm out with a cupped hand (see sidebar), and wrap your left arm behind your back. Retract your right arm in against your side and step across with the left leg in plié (and), then repeat the piqué (2), traveling to the right, with the left arm staying in place but the right arm shooting out again. Step across again and repeat the same piqué sequence (3).

MÉCÈNES ADVICE:

"As you step out, spiral the right side of your back around toward the front. …