CULTURE

Ancient myths ala Martha Graham

«As dancers of the Martha Graham Dance Company, we feel that part of us is here in Greece… We have spent so much time in the world of classical mythology and it is very special to present these myths in the country in which they were born,» said Janet Eilber, artistic director of the celebrated Martha Graham Dance Company, at a recent press conference. The company, which is celebrating its 80th birthday this year, is back in Greece for five unique performances. The troupe presented three shows at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall at the end of last week and is now scheduled to perform at Athens’s Herod Atticus Theater tomorrow and Wednesday. A dancer and a teacher, Martha Graham became a pioneer of modern dance, establishing her own company in 1926. Through its distinctive understanding of movement, Graham’s work as a choreographer soon became a signature style of dance. In 1936, the artist came up with the landmark «Chronicle» choreography, marking the beginning of a new chapter in the world of modern dance. It was 16 years ago that the company last appeared in Athens, in 1990, when the public rose in heartfelt applause to Graham as she bowed to the Herod Atticus Theater. The group’s anniversary is dedicated to the work of its legendary founder that was inspired by Greek mythology. For this special occasion, Eilber has selected four pivotal works from the great choreographer’s career which are presented for the first time in a single performance, titled «The Myths of Ancient Greece.» The program consists of «Cave of the Heart: The Legend of Medea,» «Errand into the Maze: Ariadne and the Minotaur,» «Visions from the House of Atreus: Scenes from ‘Clytemnestra’» and «Sketches from ‘Chronicle:’ A Call to Democracy.» «We are very excited to be dancing at the Herod Atticus Theater again,» said Eilber, who danced in the company for 30 years. «What stood out in Graham’s genius was that she sought international truths that everyone relates to. She did not focus on swans, fairies and flowers,» she added. «She found these truths in the works of ancient Greece. That is why our presence here gives us a powerful energy.» When asked whether the choreographies in the program have been revised, Eilber replied that when Graham was alive she was constantly revising her work. «The energy of the dancers changes as the years go by and that was something she paid attention to. What interests us now is to pass the message of Graham’s dance and choreography,» she replied. The Martha Graham Dance Company’s performances in Greece take place within the context of World Tourism Day on Wednesday. For information, see «On Stage.»