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Martha Graham Dance Company announces all programs for 90th Anniversary Season at NY City Center, April 14-18, 2016

by Janet Stapleton
February 21, 2016
New York City Center
130 West 56th Street
(Audience Entrance is on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
(Entrance for Studios and Offices is on West 56th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019
The world-renowned Martha Graham Dance Company celebrates its 90th anniversary season April 14−18, 2016, at New York City Center. The season will feature several of Martha Graham’s most important masterworks, including Chronicle (1936), Appalachian Spring (1944), Cave of the Heart (1946), Lamentation (1930), and Night Journey (1947). As part of a new educational partnership, all of the music for the Graham classics will be played by The Mannes Orchestra, under the direction of Mannes Orchestra Artistic Director David Hayes. The season also includes premieres of commissioned works by internationally acclaimed choreographers Marie Chouinard, Mats Ek, and Pontus Lidberg, and recent dances created for the Company by Nacho Duato and Andonis Foniadakis. The Gala program on April 18, the anniversary of Graham’s first public performance with her Company in 1926, will feature eight works from 1926 to 2016. The extraordinary Aurélie Dupont, a former Étoile with the Paris Opera Ballet, will perform with the Company on the Gala evening.

“We are dedicating this celebration to the unknown, to Martha Graham’s appetite for the new,” says Artistic Director Janet Eilber. “Graham’s legacy is a wellspring of originality and inspiration ¾ of exploration, experimentation and risk. The new works on our programs this season are part of this directive from the past and will be seen beside the greatest Graham classics. We hope audiences will appreciate our lineage as well as its rich connection to all that is yet to be.”

A world premiere by acclaimed Canadian choreographer Marie Chouinard will be presented on opening night. Known for her imaginative, visually striking choreography, Chouinard has created a work for the women of the Company set to a commissioned score by her longtime collaborator Louis Dufort.

The season also includes the New York premiere of AXE, by esteemed Swedish choreographer Mats Ek. A duet based on Ek’s film of the same name, the work reflects on the complexities of a long-term relationship. With Ek’s inimitable blend of theater and dance, the action becomes a metaphor for the relentless effort of navigating life and love. AXE is set to Albinoni’s stirring Adagio, arranged and recorded by Swedish composer Ulf Andersson. The work premiered at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in August 2015.

A New York premiere by award-winning Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg will also be presented. Set to "Notturno for Strings and Harp" by Irving Fine, the work will have its world premiere at the Library of Congress on April 1, 2016. The dance is commissioned by the Verna and Irving Fine Fund in the Library of Congress to celebrate the many historic commissions the Library awarded Graham in the 1940s.

The season also includes two works commissioned by the Company in 2013 and 2014: Nacho Duato’s dark, provocative work Rust, for five male dancers, and Andonis Foniadakis’ Echo, a contemporary take on the myth of Echo and Narcissus set to an original score by Julien Tarride.

Graham masterworks to be presented this season are Chronicle, the antiwar powerhouse from 1936, set to music by Wallingford Riegger; the much beloved Appalachian Spring with music by Aaron Copland; and two works inspired by classic Greek tragedies, Cave of the Heart, with music by Samuel Barber, and Night Journey, set to music by William Schumann. All four works include set design by Isamu Noguchi. Special support for the revival of Night Journey this season is provided by New York City Center.

The Gala program will open with rarely seen film footage of Three Gopi Maidens from 1926, followed by a film created for the 90th anniversary titled "90 Years in 90 Seconds." The dancing will feature works from 1926 to 2016, including Tanagra (1926), Heretic (1929), Lamentation (1930), Celebration (1934), Chronicle (1936), a duet from Appalachian Spring (1944), "Lament" from Acts of Light (1981), and the Pontus Lidberg premiere. Graham 2 will perform Heretic, and for the first time Celebration will have an all-male cast made up of students from the Graham School. Aurélie Dupont will star in both Lament and the duet from Appalachian Spring.

On April 18, in addition to the Gala evening, recently discovered, rare photos of Martha Graham and her Company in performance will be unveiled online as part of the Company's collaboration with the Google Cultural Institute (GCI). An essay with details about the historic evening of April 18, 1926, will also be available on the Graham GCI on this day. This excerpt is a preview of a highly anticipated biography of Martha Graham by Neil Baldwin being published by Knopf.

Performances are Thursday to Saturday, April 14−16, at 8:00pm, and Monday, April 18, at 7:00pm. Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased through CityTix: 212-581-1212 /nycitycenter.org. New York City Center is located at 131 West 55th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues, in Manhattan.
For information about tickets for the Gala Performance and Dinner on April 18, please contact Amanda Hameline at 212-229-9200 x25, or ahameline@marthagraham.org.

90th Anniversary Season Programs

Thursday, April 14, at 8:0pm:
Night Journey, Cave of the Heart, World Premiere by Marie Chouinard, New York Premiere of AXE by Mats Ek

Friday, April 15, at 8:00pm:
Night Journey, Appalachian Spring, AXE by Mats Ek, Echo by Andonis Foniadakis

Saturday, April 16, at 8:00pm:
Cave of the Heart, Chronicle, New Work by Marie Chouinard, Rust by Nacho Duato

Monday April 18, at 7:00pm: Gala
Film of Three Gopi Maidens, film: 90 Years in 90 Seconds, and Tanagra, Heretic, Lamentation, Lament, Celebration, duet from Appalachian Spring, Chronicle, New York Premiere by Pontus Lidberg

Guest Choreographer Biographies:

In 1978, the Montreal choreographer Marie Chouinard presented her first dance work, Cristallisation, establishing her reputation as a highly original artist. This first piece was followed by 30 solos performed on the international stage. In 1990, she founded her own company, Compagnie Marie Chouinard. The company has performed all over the world and has co-produced its pieces with different partners such as the Venice Biennale, the ImPulsTanz Dance Festival (Vienna), Théâtre de la Ville (Paris), the Fondazione Musica Per Roma, Festival TransAmériques (Montreal), Place des Arts (Montreal), and the National Arts Centre (Ottawa). Chouinard is an author, a set and lighting designer, a photographer and a filmmaker. Her opus includes multimedia pieces, performances, films, exhibitions, books, and an application for iPad and iPhone. Chouinard is a true cultural ambassador for Quebec. She has won several awards for her contribution to the arts, including the Order of Canada (2007), the Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal (2006), the Ordre des Arts et des lettres (France, 2009), the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec (2015) and the Ordre national du Québec (2015), among others.

Nacho Duato is one of the most renowned contemporary ballet choreographers of his time. He was the artistic director of Compañía Nacional de Danza in Madrid from 1990 to 2010, transforming the company into one of the most successful touring ensembles in the world. Duato became the artistic director of Mikhailovsky Ballet Theater in 2010. In August 2014 he became the artistic director of Staatsballetts Berlin, and remains with Mikhailovsky as choreographer-in-residence.

Mats Ek is the youngest son of Swedish dancer and choreographer Birgit Cullberg. At the age of 17 he was introduced to modern dance; he then studied drama at Marieborg College in Norrköping. Between 1966 and 1973 he directed plays for the Marionette Theatre and the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. In 1972 he danced with the Cullberg Ballet and then at the Ballett der Deutschen Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf. He created his first piece, The Officer’s Servant, in 1976 for the Cullberg Ballet. Two years later he became the co-director of the company, alongside his mother; and from 1985 to 1993 he was its sole director. Ek has built an international reputation with his controversial, radical re-workings of major classical ballets such as Giselle, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty. Ek’s works are performed by the Paris Opera Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, and American Ballet Theatre, among others.

Andonis Foniadakis has collaborated with Béjart Ballet Lausanne, Lyon Opera Ballet, and Saburo Teshigawara/Karas Co. He has performed works of Maguy Marin, Jiri Kilian, William Forsythe, Nacho Duato, Mats Ek, Maurice Béjart, Ohad Naharin, Bill T. Jones, and John Jasperse. As a choreographer he has created works for Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Geneva Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, Bern Ballet, NDC of Wales, Bale de Cidade de Sao Paulo, Helsinki Dance Company, and Benjamin Millepied Dance Company, among others. In 2003, he created his own dance company, Apotosoma.

Pontus Lidberg is a Swedish choreographer, filmmaker, and dancer, most recognized for his film "The Rain," for which he received numerous awards around the world. As a choreographer for the stage, Lidberg has created more than 35 works for major international dance companies, such as Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, SemperOper Ballet Dresden, Le Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, The Royal Danish Ballet, The Beijing Dance Theatre, The Royal Swedish Ballet, Morphoses, and for his own group Pontus Lidberg Dance.

About the Mannes Orchestra

Led by Maestro David Hayes, Artistic Director, The Mannes Orchestra is the premiere large ensemble at Mannes School of Music. The orchestra strives to foster the highest level of music-making by studying and performing a wide range of repertoire in a rigorous yet caring and supportive environment that mirrors the culture and practices of professional orchestras. The Mannes Orchestra performs a multitude of concerts each season in venues including Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, City Center, and Tishman Auditorium at The New School.
Founded in 1916, Mannes School of Music at The New School seeks to develop citizen artists who engage with the world around them in and through music, in traditional, new, and emergent forms of practice. Its eminent faculty of artists, scholars, and educators of international stature, including active professionals from all areas of the music world, foster close, constructive relationships with students and is committed to advancing the creative role of music throughout all aspects of our rapidly changing society.

About the Martha Graham Dance Company

The Martha Graham Dance Company has been a leader in the development of contemporary dance since its founding in 1926. Today, the Company is embracing a new programming vision that showcases masterpieces by Graham alongside newly commissioned works by contemporary artists. With programs that unite the work of choreographers across time within a rich historical and thematic narrative, the Company is actively working to create new platforms for contemporary dance and multiple points of access for audiences.

Since its inception, the Martha Graham Dance Company has received international acclaim from audiences in more than 50 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The Company has performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House, Covent Garden, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as at the base of the Great Pyramids in Egypt and in the ancient Herod Atticus Theatre on the Acropolis in Athens. In addition, the Company has also produced several award-winning films broadcast on PBS and around the world.
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