On the 60th anniversary of this iconic dance film, we honor the incomparable Graham as a pioneer who helped shape the history of modern dance in the 20th century. In it she refers to dancers as “divine normals,” who do what the human body is capable of doing but only after years disciplined training. She speaks about her art in a grand, oracular manner, sitting at a table in her dressing room, applying her makeup, fixing her signature chignon and getting into costume as if to perform the role of Jocasta in “Night Journey.” Evidently, this was the task-oriented concept that allowed Graham, then in her 60s, to overcome her fear of appearing before the camera. The director cuts between her dressing room and the studio where members of her company demonstrate what a Graham technique class was all about. Historian John Mueller called this “one of the most beautiful dance films ever made” and it’s easy to see why.
This screening is followed by a selection of interviews with six members of the Graham company from 2007—Mimi Cole, Mary Hinkson, Linda Hodes, Stuart Hodes, Yuriko Kikuchi, and Ethel Winter—which shed further light on Graham’s method and process. Produced the Criterion Collection. Presentation made possible with the permission of the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, Inc. All rights reserved. A Janus Films presentation
Helen Priest Rogers, USA, 1961, 22m
Merce Cunningham danced with Martha Graham for several years before taking modern dance in a new direction. Filmed at the American Dance Festival at Connecticut College, this is the only film version of Cunningham performing with the original cast: Carolyn Brown, Judith Dunn, Viola Farber, and Marilyn Wood. This is the debut screening of the 2K restoration, with added sound. Cunningham referred to this piece as “an adventure in togetherness.” Many thanks to the Merce Cunningham Trust and the American Dance Film Archive for providing the film and logistical support.
Introduction by Jennifer Goggans, former dancer with the Merce Cunningham Company