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MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY RETURNS TO GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY'S CENTER FOR THE ARTS

September 26, 2007
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR THE ARTS
WELCOMES BACK THE LEGENDARY
MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY
Friday, Oct. 26, 2007 at 8 p.m.

 

FAIRFAX, Va., Sept. 25, 2007 – Hailed as “one of the great companies of the world,” by The New York Times, the Martha Graham Dance Company celebrates 80 years of groundbreaking contemporary dance. Its founder, legendary dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, revolutionized the art of dance, adopting new theories of movement and using unorthodox techniques to communicate emotional and spiritual themes through contemporary dance. Today, the company travels the world performing Graham’s stunning repertory, keeping her singular genius alive and vibrant. Described by The Washington Post as “one of the seven wonders of the artistic universe,” the Martha Graham Dance Company returns to George Mason University Center for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. for the first time since the Concert Hall opened in 1990. A pre-performance discussion, free to ticketholders, begins 45 minutes prior to the curtain, on the Hall’s Grand Tier III.

Graham’s innovative choreography was inspired by a wide variety of sources, including modern painting, heroic women, the American frontier and Greek mythology. The performance at Mason includes three diverse ballets choreographed by Graham: “Appalachian Spring,” a hopeful tale about the spirit of the American pioneer set to an original score by Aaron Copland; “Embattled Garden,” a tragic-comedy about the Garden of Eden that is more about amorous love rather than biblical solemnity; and “Sketches from ‘Chronicle,’” a response to the menace of fascism in Europe during the 1930s.

Martha Graham is recognized as a seminal artist of the 20th century and has received numerous recognitions for her work, including the Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor in 1976. Graham founded the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1926 and created 181 ballets before her death in 1991. Her technique is grounded in movement meant to “increase the emotional activity of the dancer’s body.” She conceived every new dance in its entirety – dance, costumes and music. Performance feature sculptor Isamu Noguchi’s beautiful sets; original lighting; costumes by Graham and fashion designers Halston, Donna Karan and Calvin Klein; and original scores by renowned composers including Aaron Copland, Louis Horst, Samuel Barber and others. Throughout the years her company trained many future modern choreographers including Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp, and she created roles for guest ballet dancers including Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Since its inception, the Martha Graham Dance Company has received international acclaim and performed in venues worldwide including the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House, Covent Garden, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at the base of the Great Pyramids in Egypt and in the ancient Herod Atticus Theatre on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

The company currently has more than 20 dancers and is run by Artistic Director and Martha Graham Dance Company alum Janet Eilber and Executive Director LaRue Allen.

 

PROGRAM

APPALACHIAN SPRING
“Ballet for Martha”

Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham
Music by Aaron Copland
Set by Isamu Noguchi
Original lighting by Jean Rosenthal
Adapted by Beverly Emmons

8 Dancers

Premiere: Oct. 30, 1944, Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Springtime in the wilderness is celebrated by a man and woman building a house with joy and love and prayer; by a revivalist and his followers in their shouts of exaltation; by a pioneering woman with her dreams of the Promised Land.

Commissioned by the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

The original title chosen by Aaron Copland was “Ballet for Martha,” which was changed by Martha Graham to “Appalachian Spring.”

INTERMISSION

EMBATTLED GARDEN

Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham
Music by Carlos Surinach
Set by Isamu Noguchi
Original lighting by Jean Rosenthal
Adapted by Beverly Emmons

4 Dancers

Premiere: April 3, 1958, Adelphi Theatre, New York City

Love, it has been said, does not obey the rules of love but yields to some more ancient and ruder law. The Garden of Love seems always to be threatened by the Stranger’s knowledge of the world outside and by the old knowledge of those like Lilith (according to legend, Adam’s wife before Eve) who lived there first.


SKETCHES FROM ‘CHRONICLE’

Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham
Music by Wallingford Riegger
Original lighting by Jean Rosenthal
Lighting for reconstruction (‘Steps in the Street’) by David Finley
Lighting for reconstruction (‘Spectre–1914’, ‘Prelude to Action’) by Steven L. Shelley

11 Dancers

Premiere: Dec. 20, 1936, Guild Theatre, New York City

Chronicle does not attempt to show the actualities of war; rather does it, by evoking war’s images, set forth the fateful prelude to war, portray the devastation of spirit which it leaves in its wake, and suggests an answer.

I. Spectre–1914
II. Steps in the Street
III. Prelude to Action

 


PNC is the 2007-08 Season Sponsor for Great Performances at Mason.

Tickets for MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY are $40, $32, $20. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit www.tickets.com. The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K. Visit www.gmu.edu/cfa

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT MASON is a program of George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, the professional presenting arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music and Theater.

About George Mason University

George Mason University, located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with national distinction in a range of academic fields. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care, Mason prepares its students to succeed in the work force and meet the needs of the region and the world. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason’s Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Its School of Law is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 35 law schools in the United States.