Martha Graham emblazoned by Barbara Morgan photo @ VPAC

Dance · Visual arts

Fascinating words that may have resonance today, excerpted from “Martha Graham, A Biography,” by Don McDonagh, page 148:

“We must win back our audiences,” [Graham said, in an interview prior to the Company appearance at the Mansfield Theater in Letter to the World]. “We have alienated them through grimness of theme and a nontheatrical approach to our dancing. Now that we modern dancers have left our period of ‘long woolens’ behind us, we must prove to our audiences that our theater pieces have color, warmth, and entertainment value. We must convince our audiences that we belong in the American Theater.”

In a Smithsonian Magazine essay concerning the Barbara Morgan image of Graham in “Letter” above, dance writer Joan Acocella asserts that this image, “helped move modern dance to center stage.”

We’ll soon have a chance to ponder how this particular role, in which Graham brought to theatrical life the inner world of poet Emily Dickinson, was an audience-pleasing change in artistic direction for Graham. The Morgan photographic portrait, and more, all part of a private collection held by L.A. Dance Foundation, will soon be on view in a special gallery exhibition that celebrates and adds dimension to VPAC’s live presentation of Martha Graham Dance Company on April 18, 2015.

The building-out of the performance with a visual arts component is the signature specialty of VPAC executive director Thor Steingraber, working in tandem with Martha Graham Dance Company artistic director Janet Eilber and L.A. Dance Foundation director Bonnie Oda Homsey.

Past-Future-Perfect: The 20th Century Influences of Martha Graham and Barbara Morgan | VPAC art gallery | opens March 12, thru May 15

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