Martha Graham Dance Company’s Political Dance Project, on display this week at The Joyce Theater in NYC, masterfully showcases the company’s ability to both honor it’s namesake (through the preservation of her work) and keep the “modern” in modern dance (by encouraging contemporary artists to create new works that blend seamlessly with modern dance classics).
Last night, I was fortunate enough to see one of the four programs the company is showcasing this week. It included a performance of Graham’s classic commentary on American values Appalacian Spring, and Dance Is A Weapon, which features a collection of dances created by Graham and some of her contemporary choreographers in the 1920s and 1930s. The dances in the collection are interspersed with a multimedia presentation designed to explain the historical events that inspired each of the pieces.
For me, the highlight of the evening was Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch’s performance of Eve Gentry’s “Tenant of the Street.” The piece, part of Dance Is A Weapon, portrays a homeless woman who stares unflinchingly at the audience through the majority of the dance, daring them to look away. It was exquisitely uncomfortable. Want to check it out for yourself? The piece will be performed one more time during a matinee on Saturday, June 12.