BWW Reviews: The Martha Graham Company, Cave of the Heart, Errand and Night Journey
Martha Graham, Cave of the Heart, Errand, Night Journey, Joyce Theater, modern dance,
Past Articles by This Author:
BWW Reviews: The Nederlands Dans Theater Brings Two Exciting Pieces to Lincoln CenterBWW Reviews: Mixed Feelings About Paul Taylor - Le Sacre Du Printemps, The Uncommitted, and Promethean FireBWW Reviews: The Martha Graham Company, Cave of the Heart, Errand and Night JourneyBWW Reviews: New York City Ballet Presents Peter Martins' Ambitious Staging of THE SLEEPING BEAUTYBWW Reviews: An Afternoon with Robbins, Peck and Balanchine NYCB, 2/2
Martha Graham was one of the twentieth century's greatest artistic innovators. Through her work as a dancer and choreographer, Graham sought to delve into the complexities of the human psyche; ingeniously, she reached back to Greek mythology to revitalize and invigorate her work while exploring contemporary themes. Using the myth as a vehicle, Graham enriched these tales with a transparent and palpable quality similar to the groundbreaking operatic works, Salome and Electra, of Richard Strauss. This signature influence of mythology on her collective works was well reflected on Sunday, February 24, when three seminal Graham pieces, all choreographed during a one-year period between 1946 and 1947 were presented: Cave of the Heart, Errand into the Maze and Night Journey, all testaments to the timelessness of Graham's work and the relevance and impact of ancient legends in prevailing society.
The program began with Cave of the Heart, which established a dark and dramatic tone that continued throughout the evening. Blakely White-McGuire played the scorned sorceress Medea, who quickly unravels during the ballet due to the loss of her lover, Jason, to a political union with a beautiful and childlike princess. White-McGuire was an excellent Medea, utilizing the Graham technique beautifully and unraveling the complexity of Medea's descent into madness through a masterful use of her center. The twisting, serpentine movements of her back perfectly demonstratEd Graham's innovative ideas about the origins of movement and its ability to express deeply human topics; which in this case is the unraveling of a human being and the consumptive power of unrequited love. Here, another of Graham's groundbreaking principles is explored when Medea's sharp mental decline is illustrated via classic Graham floor work.
Ben Shultz danced the part of Jason and perfectly embodied the hyper-masculine and virile character. His portrayal of the emotionless, stark and angular Jason was in keeping with an idea of men that is evident in much of Graham's work: they are not important. Jason's character is unexplored and inconsequential. The conflict of this work lies within the mind of Medea. Shultz executed the portrayal of an objectified male as well as any. Similarly, the innocent Princess was presented without much characterization by a tiny dancer, Xiaochuan Xie. The benevolent Chorus seeks to thwart the destruction required by Medea's vengeance, but ultimately fails.
Following Cave was an arrangement of Graham's 1947 ballet Errand into the Maze. Sadly, many original set pieces and costumes were damaged during Hurricane Sandy last year. Errand, directly affected by this, shows Graham's choreography stripped of its elaborate accouterments and is, accordingly,the most interesting piece on this program. Errand is Graham's own telling of the story of Theseus, lost in the maze. Naturally, Graham makes Theseus a woman. Devoid of the usual over the top sets and costumes, Errand takes all of the subtlety out of the original work, and forces the audience to accept that the maze is ultimately inside the mind of the woman. Many praise a dancer's ability to project. Peiju Chien-Pott projected strongly, but inwardly. This introspective presentation strengthened the intrinsically internal conflict of the ballet and demonstrated an artistic maturity that is rare to behold. Apart from her dramatic portrayal of the role, Chien-Pott's dancing was wonderful, each movement precise, and every gesture meaningful.
Rhys Loggins is a Texas native who graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas with a BFA in Dance Performance. Though passionate about dance, Rhys also holds a love of literature and writing and enjoys being able to express himself through the written word as well as through movement. He currently teaches Pilates and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. |