Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Martha Graham's Night Journey

I was prowling the Web today, looking for clips of the ballet "Appalachian Spring." There are countless clips of orchestras and schoolchildren playing the score, but precious few of the ballet itself. Someone has put up an intriguing clip with the original cast, including Graham (see it here), but unfortunately it's quite glitchy and annoying to sit through.

I was lucky enough to come across the partial video of "Night Journey" below, however, which plays beautifully. I'm not the greatest Graham fan--the prowling was research for a writing gig--but I was riveted by this piece. Granted, I can't help seeing it as a tad comic. Portions of it bear an uncomfortable resemblance to one of the pantomime fight scenes in the original Star Trek (curse my low culture frame of reference), but the technique of the dancers is just amazing, and the set and costumes are perfect.


Perfumeshrine said...

Oh, it's quite beautiful! There is a ceremonial aspect in Greek tragedy and the chorus is acting through ritualistic gestures, so it is captured perfectly. Nevertheless technically it was not a real "dance", more of movements and gestures in antiquity, at least based on testimonies as no written guidelines for the chorus apart from the speech of κορυφαιος have been rescued. I don't suppose Oedipus would ever appear jumping up and down with his rod, but I am not annoyed, I find this artistically creative, it's not meant to be a finite approximation. ;-)

As to Star Trek, come on, I suppose they had Greek tragedy as a reference too! Intertextuality! :-)

BitterGrace said...

I was hoping you would come by and see this, E. To me it seems to capture the spirit of Greek tragedy very powerfully, so I was curious to hear your impression. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

You're right about Star Trek. It references Greek tragedy, Dante, Shakespeare--the whole ball of wax. All that, plus tight shirts and short skirts. Who could resist?