WHITE BIRD CLOSES 19TH SEASON WITH MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY, CELEBRATING 90 YEARS.

WHITE BIRD’S 19th SEASON CLOSES WITH
THE MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY, CELEBRATING 90 YEARS
AS THE OLDEST AND MOST CELEBRATED MODERN DANCE COMPANY IN THE WORLD!

What: Martha Graham Dance Company
Pre-show Conversation 6:45-7:15pm with Artistic Director Janet Eilber, Schnitzer Lower Lobby

Presented by: White Bird
When: Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 7:30 pm
Where: Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, SW Broadway/Main, Portland
Sponsors: Bonhams; Media Sponsor The Oregonian
Tickets: Starting at $26, available at whitebird.org and Portland’5 Box Office,
1111 SW Broadway (formerly PCPA) NO added fees.

White Bird’s 19th 2016-17 season comes to close on May 10 with the oldest and most celebrated modern dance company in the world, the Martha Graham Dance Company. The Company will perform one night only at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.  Celebrating 90 years, the world renowned Martha Graham Dance Company returns to Portland with an extraordinary program, featuring Graham’s masterwork, Diversion of Angels as well as new works created by some of today’s most outstanding choreographers. White Bird’s performance is sponsored by Bonham’s Auctioneers.

Immediately prior to performance, there will be a Pre-Show Conversation on the Martha Graham Legacy, with Artistic Director Janet Eilber, former dancer/choreographer Keith Martin and dance instructor/choreographer Josie Moseley. This will take place 6:45-7:15pm, free to ticket-holders, in the Schnitzer Lower Lobby and is sponsored by Wells Fargo.

The evening’s program will open Martha Graham’s Dark Meadow Suite, which premiered in 2016 as part of a studio series called GrahamDeconstructed offering insight onto some of Graham’s greatest work. Dark Meadow Suite is a rearrangement of Graham’s Dark Meadow (1946) by Artistic Director, Janet Eilber. It is a sumptuously powerful work, mythic, sexy, and lyrical by turn, with iconic Graham motifs of movement and gesture and clearly illustrating Martha Graham’s strong musicality and sensitivity to structure and drama.  The second piece on the program is Rust (2013), created for the Company by the celebrated Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato. In his critically praised work for five male dancers, Duato is touching on themes of terrorism and violence facing society today.

The second half of the evening’s performance begins with Mosaic, choreographed by Belgian Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, which premiered this past February at New York’s Joyce Theater. Mosaic was inspired by the energies and sensuality of the Middle East, with Cherkaoui focusing on the small repetitive patterns seen in mosaic art. The Martha Graham program will culminate with Graham’s beloved masterwork, Diversion of Angels. Premiering in 1948, Diversion of Angels has been called by The New York Times’ critic Anna Kisselgoff as “Martha Graham’s celebrated and humorous ode to love.”  Diversion of Angels, for 11 dancers, is set to a romantic score by Norman Dello Joio and takes its themes from differing aspects of love. Each of the three couples wears a different color, embodying romantic, mature, and flirtatious and adolescent love.

Martha Graham has had a deep and lasting impact on American art and culture. She single-handedly defined contemporary dance as a uniquely American art form, Graham’s groundbreaking style grew from her experimentation with the elemental movements of contraction and release. By focusing on the basic activities of the human form, she enlivened the body with raw, electric emotion. The sharp, angular, and direct movements of her technique were a dramatic departure from the predominant style of the time. Graham influenced generations of choreographers that included Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp.  During her long and illustrious career, Graham created 181 dance compositions. During the Bicentennial she was granted the United States’ highest civilian honor, The Medal of Freedom. In 1998, TIME Magazine named her the “Dancer of the Century.” The first dancer to perform at the White House and to act as a cultural ambassador abroad, she captured the spirit of a nation. “No artist is ahead of his time,” she said. “He is his time. It is just that the others are behind the time.”

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 offer a rich thematic narrative, the Company creates 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, Russia, and the Middle East.

Janet Eilber has been the Company’s artistic director since 2005. Her direction has focused on creating new forms of audience access to Martha Graham’s masterworks. These initiatives include contextual programming, educational and community partnerships, use of new media, commissions from today’s top choreographers and creative events such as the Lamentation Variations. Earlier in her career, as a principal dancer with the Company, Ms. Eilber danced many of Graham’s greatest roles, had roles created for her by Graham, and was directed by Graham in most of the major roles of the repertory. She soloed at the White House, was partnered by Rudolf Nureyev, starred in three segments of Dance in America, and has since taught, lectured, and directed Graham ballets internationally. Janet Eilber has served as Director of Arts Education for the Dana Foundation, guiding the Foundation’s support for Teaching Artist training and contributing regularly to its arts education publications. Ms. Eilber is a Trustee Emeritus of the Interlochen Center for the Arts.

WHITE BIRD CLOSES 19TH SEASON WITH MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY, CELEBRATING 90 YEARS.