Martha Graham An American Original in Performance
Dance Performance DVD
DP01 Classic Dance Performances DVD - Martha Graham - Martha Graham An American Original in Performance - Dance Performance DVD - A true pioneer in the world of dance, Martha Graham became an American legend. The program is in three parts and highlights a fearless explorer and a passionate artist. This video is a tribute to one of the greatest dancers and choreographers of the 20th century. It is done in black and white and actually, this makes it even better, for it serves to concentrate attention on the dance forms and the many abstractions that so characterize the Graham technique. There are three parts of the video: 1. A Dancer's World, which is 30-minutes long and shows Graham and her company demonstrating dance expression and techniques. Viewers can see Graham in the dressing room, in the studio, and dancing herself. 2. Night Journey, which is my all time favorite piece by Graham. Graham dances the part of Jocasta, Paul Taylor as Tiresais, and Bertram Ross as Oedipus. 3. Appalachian Spring, which is the most popular of Graham's works, is accompanied by the music of Aaron Copland. All of the parts exemplify the mystery and majesty of this pioneer of modern dance. Graham is unrelenting in her expression, things are never subtle in her dances, and she always (delightfully) comes across with an overabundance of passion. Given the length of time she actually performend on stage, one can only feel a deep sense of respect and awe at this incredible woman. Martha Graham: In Performance, features three works choreographed specifically for black and white film camera during the years 1957, 1961 and 1958. It begins with a 30-minute demonstration film, A Dancer's World, where Ms. Graham introduces the viewer to her company and gives an intimate glimpse into the exercises that precede the performance of a dance piece. Next come Night Journey and Appalachian Spring, two different works of dance for camera. Alexander Hammid, a husband of experimental filmmaker Maya Deren, directed Night Journey. The camera is used as an integral component of the stage choreography; with different viewing angles and camera positions only being possible by staging particular short sequences within the choreography, then editing the segments together to form a smoothly flowing whole. Appalachian Spring is a cinematic interpretation for Graham's choreography of a Quaker wedding. It will likely remain as one of her best-remembered works. All three films document well the signature Graham dance style that consists of abrupt contraction and release of different parts of the body; the intimate relation of the dancer's breathing to emotion and movement; positions of austere, angular body line; and close dancer proximity to the ground. Martha Graham: In Performance is a film document of significant historical importance. Any self-respecting fan of dance should own a copy of this DVD to aid in their personal study, and reflection on, one of the great artist's of our time. I really think this video is invaluable because it contains the 30-minute video A DANCER'S WORLD. This video starts out with Martha in the dressing room talking about dance as a profession, and then it switches scenes to show her dancers from the late 1950s performing some of her classic floor work as well as bits of choreography from Martha's works, such as, I believe, Diversion of Angels. More than anything, what makes this video valuable in my eyes is that we get to see Martha talk about what she loves: dance. She really was an incredible woman (as if me saying it makes it so - who hasn't said that about Martha?), and I hope her legacy will be preserved. Videos like this will aid in such preservation. The two dances and one personal account of a dancer's world included in this hour and a half long vido were amazing. Anyone who has heard of Martha Graham's revolutionary dancing but has never seen any of her work should see this- it is truly spectacular. I used to show this film to my music appreciation classes at a community college in the 80s on a 16mm projector. It's interesting to hear this dvd without the whirring of the projector. This film is a real treasure, especially the Appalachian Spring.
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I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong. -Leo Rosten
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