This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

17Jun/20

IMMEDIATE TRAGEDY

Xin Ying, Lloyd Knight, Lorenzo Pagano, and Leslie Andrea are among the Martha Graham dancers collaborating on reimagined Immediate Tragedy (photo by Ricki Quinn)

Xin Ying, Lloyd Knight, Lorenzo Pagano, and Leslie Andrea are among the Martha Graham dancers collaborating from their homes on reimagined Immediate Tragedy (photo by Ricki Quinn)

Who: The Soraya, Martha Graham Dance Company, Wild Up
What: World premiere of digital dance
Where: The Soraya Facebook page, Martha Graham Dance Company YouTube channel
When: Friday, June 19, the Soraya, free, 7:00; Saturday, June 20, MGDC YouTube, 2:30
Why: During the pandemic, Martha Graham Dance Company has opened up its vast archives — the troupe was founded in 1926, and Graham created 181 ballets throughout her long, legendary career — presenting fabulous footage of classic recorded works, followed by live discussions with special guests. On June 19, MGDC is taking its next step with the world premiere of a new piece designed specifically for online viewing. Joining forces again with the Soraya, the California-based multidisciplinary performing arts organization, and chamber group Wild Up, the LA-based modern music collective, MGDC will be debuting Immediate Tragedy, a virtual reimagining of Graham’s lost 1937 solo, which was her artistic response to the Spanish Civil War. The ten-minute work will be performed by fourteen dancers (So Young An, Alessio Crognale, Laurel Dalley Smith, Natasha Diamond-Walker, Lloyd Knight, Charlotte Landreau, Jacob Larsen, Lloyd Mayor, Marzia Memoli, Anne O’Donnell, Lorenzo Pagano, Anne Souder, Leslie Andrea Williams, Xin Ying) and five musicians (Jiji, Richard Valitutto, Jodie Landau, Brian Walsh, Derek Stein) performing from wherever they are sheltering in place, set to a score composed and conducted by Christopher Rountree, the founder, conductor, and creative director of Wild Up.

Rare photograph of Martha Graham performing lost 1937 solo Immediate Tragedy (photo by Robert Fraser, 1937. Courtesy of Martha Graham Resources)

Rare photograph of Martha Graham performing lost 1937 solo Immediate Tragedy (photo by Robert Fraser, 1937. Courtesy of Martha Graham Resources)

Choreographed by MGDC artistic director Janet Eilber and the dancers based on remnants of the 1937 original, including photos, musical notations, letters, and reviews, the work features digital design and editing by Ricki Quinn as it explores the current tragedies the world is experiencing; it will premiere June 19 at 7:00 on the Soraya’s Facebook page, followed June 20 at 2:30 on MGDC’s YouTube channel as part of the weekly Martha Matinees program, which has previously presented Lamentation, “Birth of the Modern: Martha Graham’s Revolution,” Letter to the World, and more. Each dancer was given four photos from which to develop their movement, while the musicians received snippets of notations from Cowell’s original, all using as inspiration a letter Graham wrote to Cowell in which she explained, “Whether the desperation lies in Spain or in a memory in our own hearts it is the same — I had been in a valley of despair, too. I felt in that dance I was dedicating myself anew to space, that in spite of violation I was upright and that I was going to stay upright at all costs.” Rountree said in a statement, "While the piece is really located in a ‘post Henry Cowell’ space, another big inspiration is: this moment itself, and the immediate tragedy of us all being apart. What are our modes of being together in this moment? What does it look like, what does it sound like and how do we deal with being apart like this?” The thirty-minute program will also include interviews with the collaborators and a screening of Graham and Cowell’s 1937 companion solo, Deep Song.

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