On Saturday, March 1, the Martha Graham Dance Company will perform in Augusta for the first time ever. The dance recital will take place at the Imperial Theatre and is presented by Augusta Ballet.
Additionally, on Friday, February 28, professional dancers from the visiting Martha Graham Dance Company will instruct two master classes that are open to all intermediate-to-advanced dance students in the CSRA. Classes will be held at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, beginning at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Established in 1926 and founded by Martha Graham herself, the Martha Graham Dance Company is the oldest and most revered modern dance company in America. Before her passing in 1991 at the age of 96, Graham choreographed more than 180 works. For their Augusta performance, the Martha Graham Dance Company will showcase some of her most famous, highly acclaimed pieces: Appalachian Spring, Cave of the Heart and Embattled Garden.
“Each of the performances is going to be a little bit different,” said Angela Stroman, the executive director for Augusta Ballet. “Appalachian Spring is much more lighthearted. It’s about a wedding during pioneer times so it’s very happy and joyful. It’s really beautiful. The other two are a little bit different. They’re very emotional. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s very tragic and their program just encompasses all of it. I feel like you experience a lot of different emotions during the entire program. There are a lot of highs and lows, but overall it is just very passionate and beautiful.”
Agnes de Mille once said “Martha Graham was to modern dance what Pablo Picasso was to modern art,” hence earning Graham the unofficial moniker “Picasso of Dance.” Much like modern art, modern dance is sort of a different take on a traditional form.
“The dancers incorporate a lot of different styles and techniques,” Stroman explained. “It’s just different as far as they’re not going on point, there’s not a real strict vocabulary of movement [as in a traditional ballet]. It’s a lot more free. The dancers use their entire body to communicate the story.”
The day before the performance there will be master classes offered for all intermediate-to-advanced dance students in the CSRA. Stroman said that it is a really big opportunity because Augusta no longer has a professional dance company. She said students in the CSRA mostly learn from teachers in dance classes and/or summer dance camps, but have few opportunities to work with different instructors to learn different styles.
“We’re bringing this amazing professional company home so students who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to learn from the best are going to learn Graham’s technique from those who know it best,” Stroman said.
There will be two sessions taught with two to four dancers instructing the classes. The classes are open to everyone and will be available to Jessye Norman School of the Arts students and Davidson Fine Arts students at no charge.
In addition to the master classes being offered, there are also a number of tickets to the performance itself that have been set aside specifically for students. They are giving away a lot of student tickets, and selling student tickets for $10, Stroman said. She also said they are reserving a lot of seats in the first and second balcony for students. Augusta Ballet feels that arts education is very important, especially with all the budget cuts that have been made in schools and they are happy to provide this opportunity.
Martha Graham Dance Company
The Imperial Theatre
Saturday, March 1