July 29, 2019—(Becket, MA) Martha Graham Dance Company, the oldest dance company in the United States, returns to Jacob’s Pillow with The EVE Project, a celebration of female power and the upcoming 100th Anniversary of the 19th amendment. This two-year project presents a range of Graham’s classics alongside new commissions by leading female voices—providing entree into some of today’s most pressing conversations. Featured works on the program include Graham’s iconic Appalachian Spring and the all-female Chronicle, as well as a suite of Lamentation Variations and a new work, Deo, by Maxine Doyle and Bobbi Jene Smith.
“We’re thrilled to present the Martha Graham Dance Company for six performances at the Festival and for a special Pillow Pop-Up at the Clark Art Institute, one of our cultural partners. The EVE Project presents exciting new commissions which showcase how Graham’s legacy continues to impact leading dancemakers of today,” says Jacob’s Pillow Director Pamela Tatge.
Appalachian Spring, now in its seventy-fifth year, opens the program. Probably Graham’s best-known work, it takes place on the wedding day of a young bride and her husband as they begin a life together on the American frontier. With a set designed by Isamu Noguchi and a Pulitzer prize winning score by Aaron Copland, Appalachian Spring has been admired by The New York Times as a “real triumph” and “a celebration of the human spirit.” Graham once wrote, “Of all my ballets, (Appalachian Spring) is the one I cherish the most,” (The Los Angeles Times).
One of Graham’s few works that express overt political ideas, Chronicle, with a cast of all women, premiered in 1936. A response to the rise of fascism in Europe, the dance seeks to universalize the tragedy of war. Performed to music by Wallingford Riegger, Chronicle is “incendiary, ferocious modern dance” (The Chicago Tribune).
Lamentation Variations features choreography by prominent female choreographers Liz Gerring, Michelle Dorrance, and Aszure Barton in reaction to Graham’s iconic solo, Lamentation. What began in 2007 to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 grew into a robust collaboration between Martha Graham Dance Company and the dance community at large. “We want to use the Graham legacy as a springboard for wildly diverse projects,” said Artistic Director Janet Eilber (The New York Times). These artists present responses that reflect their unique movement idioms.
The company’s newest work, Deo, by Gaga-trained Bobbi Jene Smith and theater-based Maxine Doyle, draws inspiration from the classic myth of Demeter, goddess of harvest and fertility, and Persephone, her daughter who was abducted by Hades. Set to experimental electronic music by Lesley Flanigan, the work for eight women investigates the natural human preoccupation with death, the underworld, and the role that women play in our understanding of mortality, with a movement score in which “vulnerable expressions juxtapose with cold, precise gestures” (The Dance Enthusiast).
The Financial Times has claimed that “The dance world would be a poorer place without Graham’s company.” To showcase the importance of Graham’s work beyond the concert stage, iconic works from Martha Graham Dance Company will be presented on and around the grounds of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts on August 18 from 1-3pm. As part of a special performance engagement at the museum during their time at Jacob’s Pillow, the Graham company will perform Diversion of Angels, Lamentation, Ekstasis, and The 19 Poses.
ABOUT MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY:
Martha Graham and her Company have expanded contemporary dance’s vocabulary of movement and forever altered the scope of the art form by rooting works in contemporary social, political, psychological, and sexual contexts, deepening their impact and resonance.
Always a fertile ground for experimentation, Martha Graham Dance Company has been an unparalleled resource in nurturing many of the leading choreographers and dancers of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, Pearl Lang, Pascal Rioult, and Paul Taylor. Graham’s repertoire of 181 works has also engaged noted performers such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Claire Bloom, Margot Fonteyn, Liza Minnelli, Rudolf Nureyev, Maya Plisetskaya, and Kathleen Turner. Her groundbreaking techniques and unmistakable style have earned the Company acclaim from audiences in more than 50 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
Today, the Company continues to foster Graham’s spirit of ingenuity. It is embracing a new programming vision that showcases masterpieces by Graham alongside newly commissioned works by contemporary artists inspired by Graham’s legacy. With programs that unite the work of choreographers across time within a rich historical and thematic narrative, the Company is actively working to create new platforms for contemporary dance and multiple points of access for audiences.
JACOB’S PILLOW CONNECTIONS:
One of the foremost American choreographers of the twentieth century, a modern dance pioneer, and the creator of an important technique for training dancers, Martha Graham (1894-1991) studied at the Denishawn School in Los Angeles. There she was inspired by Ruth St. Denis and mentored by Ted Shawn, performing with Denishawn until 1923. Her own company, founded in 1926, became a breeding ground for seminal artists such as Erick Hawkins, Merce Cunningham, and Paul Taylor. Although Shawn made many attempts to bring the Graham Company to the Pillow, the only formal appearance during his lifetime was a 1960 lecture-demonstration.
The Company’s official Pillow debut in 1984 was an emotional homecoming for Graham, who personally supervised rehearsals of her recently-premiered Rite of Spring on this very stage. Now under the direction of former principal dancer Janet Eilber (who has added such works as Nacho Duato’s Rust and Mats Ek’s AXE to the repertory), the company has made five return visits to the Pillow since Graham’s death in 1991.
PERFORMANCE & TICKET INFORMATION:
Martha Graham Dance Company at Jacob’s Pillow
Ted Shawn Theatre
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8pm
Thursday and Saturday at 2pm
$78, $65, $45
A limited number of $35 Under 35 tickets are available; adults ages 18-35 are eligible. One
Ticket per person; each guest must show valid I.D. when picking up tickets at Will Call.
Pillow Pop-Up: Martha Graham Dance Company at the Clark Art Museum
Sunday, August 18 at 1-3pm
225 South St, Williamstown, MA 01267
FREE; Visitors are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket for outdoor seating.