Thursday, March 15, 2012

March 15, 2012

Welcome to Dr. Aaron Flagg, Dean of the Hartt School, with his first posting. Thanks, Aaron for this.

Citadels of culture often seem "owned" by certain arts disciplines. In the world of music, it's Carnegie Hall; in theatre, it's the Great White Way; and for dance it is the Joyce Theatre on 8th Avenue and 17th St in Manhattan. 

Last night, The Hartt School's Dance Division, under the leadership of Division Director Stephen Pier, performed at "the Joyce" for the Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance's first University Partners Showcase. Our 12 dancers (Luke Bermingham, Jane Cracovaner, Erin Dillon, Tehran Dixon, Sean Hatch, Christopher LaFleche, Michele Lee, Matthew Melendez, Amy Motson, Nolan Peltier, Abby Price and Haruka Tamura) performed a suite of dances from Martha Graham's epic work "Dark Meadow" choreographed in 1946 and set to music by Carlos Chavez. A string quartet from Hartt's 20/20 program recorded the work beautifully. Hartt opened the showcase which included Martha Graham II (the performing arm of the Graham School in NYC), New World School of the Arts, Point Park University, Skidmore College, University of Arizona and one pre-college program, the Interlochen Arts Academy.

One fascinating aspect of this type of showcase is the opportunity for students from different programs to meet each other, see each other's work and be introduced to a breadth of Martha Graham choreography. This showcase has the promise of building community amongst serious dancers and strengthening the Graham tradition. As an audience member, one saw favorite masterworks of Martha Graham such as "Heretic" (1929), "Panorama" (1935), "Diversion of Angels" (1948), and from "Chronicle" the sections called "Steps in the Street" (1936), and "Prelude to Action" (1936). I was introduced to Charles Weidman's choreography through his 1939 piece "On My Mother's Side".

 Although all the dancers performed well, one can easily see the different types and levels of training they receive at their institutions. Graham II clearly set the high bar for what a professional-level company looks like. I was extremely proud (of course) of the discipline, conditioning, clear knowledge of style and commitment to the emotional underpinning of the work demonstrated by the Hartt dancers. We can rest assured that at Hartt, our dancers are learning the authentic Graham style with its precision movement, strength and unwavering intensity. 

 New World, Point Park and Interlochen were stylistically strong and the University of Arizona has an impressive number of male dancers (also a high value in dance) who are quite gifted and well trained. Some programs focus less on modern dance technique in favor of jazz or musical theatre movement or are not professional programs bynature. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to see such diversity embrace the legacy of the "Picasso of Dance" Martha Graham.

 A proud Hartt alum Jeffrey S. Hodgson was on hand for the event and serves as Interim Provost of the New World School of the Arts. Jeffrey studied piano with Luiz deMoura Castro and was with us in the fall for the celebration of Luiz's 70th birthday. The world is indeed small. 

Hartt's participation was generously supported in part by Larry and Naomi Rothfield, Mort and Irma Handel, Provost Sharon Vasquez.

 The next series of performances for Hartt Dances run April 27-29, 2012 at Lincoln Theatre and features works by José Limón, Marius Petipa, and two World Premieres.

Aaron Flagg, Dean
The Hartt School

No comments:

Post a Comment