Magazine article The Spectator

Graham Magic

Magazine article The Spectator

Graham Magic

Article excerpt

Within the dance world, Graham was known as `Martha the witch'. This was partly because of her piercing charisma and partly because of her magical ability to create visually and emotionally gripping dances that could transcend any cultural, geographical, political or time barrier. Last week, the long-awaited arrival of the Martha Graham Dance Company at the Barbican proved once more the timeless quality of Graham choreography and did not disappoint those who went to check the state of her artistic legacy.

Even when under threat from a stylistically inaccurate and technically unsatisfactory performance of some miscast interpreter, her work never fails to show both a perfect, amazingly fresh structure and powerful dramatic potential. Fortunately, it was only one item in the programme, Appalachian Spring, that suffered slightly from the not ideal dancing of some young members of the company. The rest of the evening brought back memories of the good old days, thus revealing that not all 'new' Graham dancers, namely those who joined the company after her death, lack that stylistic and interpretative understanding of the dances that, allegedly, only the choreographer/sorceress could pass on. Martin Losfnes, for instance, gave one of the best portrayals of the Minotaur I have seen in Errand into the Maze, partnering a splendid Christine Deakin, one of the two Graham high priestesses in the company, the other being the equally extraordinary Therese Cappuccilli.

I, like everybody else, was quite relieved to see that the disappointing performances at the 1996 Edinburgh Festival were only a transitional bad moment and were not synonymous with an irreversible decline of both the company and the work. Yet I could not help leaving the Barbican with all sorts of gloomy thoughts. Much as I believe in the everlasting validity of Graham's choreography, which spans a period of over 60 years, I also believe that the repertoire of the company needs to be complemented with a further exploration of the numerous possibilities offered by Graham's principles to contemporary choreographers. I find it difficult to accept that Graham's technique, arguably one of the best and most complete dance-training methods of this century, has been finalised, so that what we find in the company is a never-ending, somehow self-indulgent posthumous celebration of the great dance-maker. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.