Beauty in Motion

Virginie Mecene in Martha Graham’s “Appalachian Spring”

Photo by John Deane

To dance is to live! The music, the bodies, the movement – they all inspire. There is so much chatter in the news about the arts and the lack of funding for them both within schools and on the professional level. One can’t help but wonder what that will mean for the generations to come. I can remember the very first time I walked up to Lincoln Center, in awe of the majestic fountain and the towering buildings that surrounded me. And then I entered the theater. I was completely smitten and decided then and there that I wanted to be a ballerina. That dream faded but my love of dance never did.

Katherine Crockett and Martin Lofsnes in Martha Graham’s “Diversion of Angels”

Photo by John Deane

My dear friend Meghan Hewit McCormick is also passionate about dance. She is a beautiful dancer herself and each time she speaks of the dancers she works with I can hear the joy in her voice and see the inspiration on her face. Meghan has worked with a range of arts organizations over the years. Dance was her first love but she is equally passionate about all the arts in general. She whole-heartedly believes that the arts are an imperative part of our culture. Her most recent project is one I am honored to promote. Currently the Martha Graham Dance Company is fundraising through a Kickstarter campaign to create a new work with famed choreographer Nacho Duato. The amount you give is of little importance. Getting involved is imperative. They are trying to raise $25,000 by November 27th. Read on to find out why you should consider donating today!

Alessandra Prosperi in Martha Graham’s “Deep Song”

Photo by John Deane

Q&A with Meghan Hewit McCormick, Director of Development, Martha Graham Dance Company

What does dance mean to you personally?

For me, dance is love. I discovered it on my own and threw myself into it when I was about 10 years old, and it became my passion project and very much a part of my identity through high school and college. Discipline, challenge, expression (so essential during those teen years!), power, beauty, and fun – that’s what held my interest. It calls upon both the artist and athlete within.

It has been a while since I danced. When I go to see a performance today, there are the times when it just moves me – gives me the chills, brings me to tears, catches me. It is relaxing, inspiring, and invigorating at once. That is the deep emotional connection dance makes for me.

In Martha Graham’s words, Dance is the hidden language of the soul.

Gary Galbraith and Elizabeth Auclair In Martha Graham’s “Errand Into the Maze”

Photo by John Deane

How has the MGDC impacted the world of dance?
Where do I begin? Martha Graham is recognized as one of the great creative geniuses of the 20th century. Often referred to as the founding mother of modern dance, she was an American dancer and choreographer who choreographed 181 works in her lifetime and invented a codified technique comparable to ballet in its scope. Her work was revolutionary. She founded her company in 1926 and choreographed her last work, the extraordinary Maple Leaf Rag, in 1990 at the age of 96. She trained and influenced generations of other artists, from Baryshnikov to Merce Cunningham to Madonna.

When she was alive, the Company was an official cultural ambassador for our country, touring and performing around the world, which it continues to do today. It’s the oldest dance company in America – the oldest modern dance company in the world – but sustains a vital commitment to innovation and experimentation. And today, in addition to performing the Graham masterworks, the Company is making another bold move – under the artistic direction of Janet Eilber – to commission leading choreographers to create new work for the company and to make the work more accessible to audiences.

That’s what this Kickstarter project is about.

Martha Graham Dance Company in Larry Keigwin’s “Lamentation Variation”
Photo by Christopher Jones

Who is Nacho Duato and why will this new work be so special?
Nacho Duato is a Spanish dancer and choreographer who is making his mark across Europe and the US. Next September, he will become the Chief of Berlin State Ballet. He’s choreographed major works for ABT, Paris Opera Ballet, Royal Ballet. Earlier this year, he created a work for the Graham Company – a work that is really about torture – and it’s insane. So powerful. So contemporary. Gorgeous movement. That’s a starting place for why.

This second collaboration, featuring men and women, has all the potential to be even more powerful – building upon the creative collaboration and rapport between him and the dancers. I should say, the Graham dancers, who come from all over the world, are just at the absolute top. They can do anything.

Katherine Crockett and Martin Lofsnes in Martha Graham’s “Acts of Light”

Photo by John Deane

Why and how can someone give to your Kickstarter Campaign?
We are most excited about this project because it’s a way to bring people – anywhere in the world – into the creative process, to experience what it takes to make a major work of art. As a backer, you’ll receive updates on the first day Nacho arrives in New York and enters the studio in February, updates throughout the process – as the work is cast, created, rehearsed, premiered, and booked for touring. Choreography, music, costumes, set. All of it. A final rehearsal will be live streamed from inside the studio. It should be cool!

The work is premiering at New York City Center on March 20. Our Backers can say they made it happen and walk into the theater with incredible insight.

Visit here to watch our video and learn more about the project. Follow it, share it, back it.

The first 3 readers who donate to the Kickstarter campaign will receive 2 tickets each to an exclusive in-studio performance of their choice. Dates available January-February.

Tadej Brdnik and Miki Orihara in Martha Graham’s “Appalachian Spring”

Photo by John Deane

We hear a lot of talk about how funding is being cut in schools for arts/music/dance. Why is it so imperative that children have access to these things?
It’s important because it’s part of what makes us whole human beings. I see my two year old son grab his guitar (yukele, really) every single morning and just walk around our apartment strumming and singing, and I think, I know, this is fundamental. It needs to be valued and nurtured. I also think the arts are a way to cultivate essential life skills like discipline and creativity. I can’t imagine school (childhood) without the arts, just as I can’t imagine school without sports.

Martha Graham School
Photo by David Penner

On the subject, here are some values shared by the Marta Graham School:

  • We want children to understand the value of self-expression and through that expression, the value of self.
  • We want to give them an opportunity to deeply connect with what they have to say by giving them alternative ways to say it.
  • We want them to understand success and accomplishment in a way that may not be available to them in the more traditional academic approach.
  • We want children to have an informed perspective of themselves within a greater understanding of the world.

Kenneth Topping and Katherine Crockett in Martha Graham’s “Circe”

Photo by John Deane

How can our readers make the MGDC a part of our community?
Invite Graham II, the School’s pre-professional performance group, into your schools for lecture-demonstrations or mini performances.

Lobby your communities for the Martha Graham School’s Teens@Graham in-school residency program to be a part of your local middle school or high school.

Invite the Artistic Director and members of the Graham Company into your homes and clubs for extraordinary private events. Seriously, we can make this happen! It should be noted we do have a number of dedicated supporters in Connecticut.

Martha Graham School
Photo by David Penner

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  1. Hi Lindley! I’m Heather and I was hoping you could answer my quick question I have about your blog! My email is Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com 🙂

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