Dance Overview: ‘Surreal Graham’ at Martha Graham Studio Theater

November 25th, 2013

In modern several years, the Martha Graham Dance Firm has manufactured an work to set the operate of its founder in context with themed programming and spoken introductions. Often beneficial in giving entrances to forbidding and international-seeming terrain, these methods also tend to focus interest on our length from the context in which Graham’s function spoke for alone, our unhappy separation from the great artist who required no introduction.

Andrea Mohin/The New York Moments

Surreal Graham Katherine Crockett of the Martha Graham Dance Business executing “Spectre — 1914” at the troupe’s Studio Theater.

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“Surreal Graham,” the plan that debuted Tuesday at the Martha Graham Studio Theater (previously the Merce Cunningham Studio), is portion of Performa 13, the efficiency artwork biennial, which is targeted on Surrealism this year. Close to performances of the 1936 solo “Spectre — 1914” and the 1944 duet “H?rodiade,” the company’s creative director, Janet Eilber, and the artwork historian Mary Ann Caws provided scattershot commentary on attainable associations between the two operates and Surrealist artists and themes.

In the case of “Spectre,” a solo part of Graham’s war-resisting “Chronicle,” the connections weren’t quite convincing or illuminating. (“The Surrealists hated war,” Ms. Caws informed us.) But the efficiency by the longtime Graham dancer Katherine Crockett experienced an effect outside of explanations. In this dance, a system and a extended skirt that’s black on the exterior and red as blood beneath amplify the dancer’s majesty and grief. Ms. Crockett, though not fairly continuous in power, gave the function proper scale.

“H?rodiade,” Ms. Eilber defined, is mysterious even to those who dance it. A lady and her attendant are ready for some thing, perhaps the woman’s future the girl helps make a choice to acknowledge it. Listed here, the Surrealist relationship was most persuasive in the location of a typical ancestor: the symbolist poet St?phane Mallarm?, whose “H?rodiade” inspired the Paul Hindemith rating for Graham’s dance.

However Graham’s “H?rodiade” doesn’t have considerably to do with the Mallarm? poem, his conception of a “theater of mind” is appropriate to her artwork. Thinking of her in the line of the symbolists helps make some perception, although it does not insert significantly to the personalized mythology powering her “H?rodiade,” the martyrlike struggle of the artist to grow to be an artist.

In any case, it was excellent to see this hardly ever done function. Ms. Crockett made a grandly curved attendant. In the Graham part, Miki Orihara was specific and restrained, her masklike confront revealing a brain under pressure. Her pivoting physique expressed the agonies of choice, the heroic calling, the determination and the ultimate readiness. She created the very last second, when she disappears into a cocoon of black material, chilling.

It was only because an incomplete film of Graham in the part had been demonstrated before that specified information in Ms. Orihara’s performance seemed fudged or underpowered. But in this theater, ghosts of the earlier are usually existing, as they are in all Graham performances, what ever the body.

“Surreal Graham” continues through Monday (with a offered-out display) at the Martha Graham Studio Theater, fifty five Bethune Avenue, 11th flooring, West Village 212-229-9200, marthagraham.org.

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