Martha Graham’s Dance of Life and 20th Anniversary Season Gala
It’s the talk of the town! Delight your chore drama senses by experiencing Martha Graham’s Dance of Life, the pinnacle of the South Florida Symphony Orchestra’s 20th Anniversary Season led by Founder Music Director Sabrina Maria Alfonso. This enthralling evening features an historic collaboration between the world class Symphony and the legendary Martha Graham Dance Company, America’s oldest dance company presenting some of the world’s leading dancers. Martha Graham is widely recognized as a primal artistic force of the 20th century, along with Picasso, James Joyce, Igor Stravinsky, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Time magazine named her “Dancer of the Century” and People magazine tagged her among the female “Icons of the Century.” According to Janet Wilber, Company Artistic Director and former Principal Dancer, “Martha was a revolutionary who created a new and very American style of dancing.” Wilber danced many of Graham’s greatest roles including roles created for her by Graham. Since 2005, she has been teaching, lecturing, and directing Graham ballets internationally. Denise Vale, Senior Artistic Associate, joined the Company in 1985 and also attained Principal Dancer rank. During its 90-year history, the Company has received audience and critical acclaim in over 50 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Russia, and the Middle East.
The Symphony and the Company grace the audience with passionate interpretations in dance and movement of the melodies of three masterpieces. Aaron Copland’s legendary Appalachian Spring Ballet Suite and Igor Stravinsky’s revolutionary Rite of Spring both will be danced to Martha Graham’s original choreography by the nineteen-member Dance Company. Isamu Noguchi designed the set for the Ballet Suite. The Symphony presented Appalachian Spring Suite choreographed during its 2015-2016 season. Not to be missed is the World Premiere-Choreography bringing alive Fort Lauderdale’s own Tom Hormel’s Legend of Bird Mountain, choreographed by Graham 2 Director Virginia Miocene and performed by the eleven Graham 2 Dancers. Miocene, previously a Principal Dancer, directed the Martha Graham School from 2007-2015 where she currently is Program Director. The Symphony hosted the World Premiere-Music of Bird Mountain during it 2016-2017 season. Excitingly, the newly choreographed interpretation of the composition will now become part of the Company’s permanent repertoire in line with the new programming vision showcasing masterpieces by Graham alongside newly com-missioned works by contemporary artists. Resulting programs offer a rich thematic narrative, creating new platforms for contemporary dance and multiple points of access for audiences.
Each masterpiece presents a fascinating scenario. Copland’s Appalachian Spring Ballet (1943), a love story by Martha Graham celebrating the marriage of two Pennsylvania pioneers, is the composer’s most popular work. It is considered a jewel of Americana, a classic national treasure whose defiant innocence, affirmation, freshness and strength reaffirmed national values and ideals at a time of world chaos during World War II.
Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (1917) revolutionized twentieth century musical language and, arguably, was the most influential work of its time. At its 1913 Paris Opera debut, the audience rioted because they had never heard such modernistic orchestral sounds. A simple idea unifies the ballet: “the mystery and the great surge of the creative power of the violent Russian Spring.” Wilber describes the music as “visceral, dynamic and pounding, which makes it perfect for Martha’s choreography.” Local dancers Lloyd Knight and Leon Cobb, both graduates of the new World School of the Arts, will join the Company. Wilber remarks “Both dancers are wonderfully trained. And the Rite of Spring has some of the most physical, acrobatic, and exerting choreography.” Hormel’s inspiration for Legend of Bird Mountain is a legend of Mountains, Wilderness, and two Birds who mate for life. The beautiful bride is shot by hunters but returned to life by Witch Doctors who put the hunters under a terrifying spell and banish them forever, leaving the two birds in love and ever so grateful.
Tickets for the Martha Graham Dance of Life performance are sold separately: $40-125. Broward Center.org. Ticketmaster (954) 462-0222. Group Sales (954) 660-6307.