4/1/19 O&A NYC DANCE: A Converstion with Lloyd Knight

By Walter Rutledge

The Martha Graham Dance Company will begin their New York City season April 2 through April 14 at the Joyce Theater. Continue reading

2/17/17 SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: A Conversation With Abdiel Jacobsen


Abdiel Jacobsen made his debut with the Martha Graham Dance Company as an apprentice dancing in Errand Into The Maze with world-renowned Russian ballerina Diana Vishneva. Continue reading

(REPOST) 2/11/17 O&A NYC DANCE: Clive Thompson- The Graham Years

By Walter Rutledge

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To celebrate the Martha Graham Dance Company New York Season- February 14th thru 26th at the Joyce O&A NYC Magazine reposts Clive Thompson- The Graham Years

The life of a bank clerk at the Government Savings Bank in Kingston, Jamaica was not going be Clive Thompson’s fate; he had been a performer for most of his life. Clive and his sister Norma had been childhood favorites in the local talent shows and were part of the “opening act” in Children’s Corner Club at the Saturday matinees. After seeing the Katherine Dunham Dance Company perform and a chance encounter with modern dance teacher Ivy Baxter he began formal dance classes. Continue reading

(REPOST) 2/11/17 O&A NYC DANCE: Clive Thompson- The Graham Years

By Walter Rutledge

graham Jack Mitchell 001 copy

To celebrate the Martha Graham Dance Company February 14th thru 26th at the Joyce O&A NYC Magazine reposts Clive Thompson- The Graham Years

The life of a bank clerk at the Government Savings Bank in Kingston, Jamaica was not going be Clive Thompson’s fate; he had been a performer for most of his life. Clive and his sister Norma had been childhood favorites in the local talent shows and were part of the “opening act” in Children’s Corner Club at the Saturday matinees. After seeing the Katherine Dunham Dance Company perform and a chance encounter with modern dance teacher Ivy Baxter he began formal dance classes. Continue reading

(REPOST) 4/12/16 O&A NYC DANCE- Celebrating the 90th Anniversary Season Of The Martha Graham Dance Company- Clive Thompson The Graham Years

By Walter Rutledge

graham Jack Mitchell 001 copy

The life of a bank clerk at the Government Savings Bank in Kingston, Jamaica was not going be Clive Thompson’s fate; he had been a performer for most of his life. Clive and his sister Norma had been childhood favorites in the local talent shows and were part of the “opening act” in Children’s Corner Club at the Saturday matinees. After seeing the Katherine Dunham Dance Company perform and a chance encounter with modern dance teacher Ivy Baxter he began formal dance classes. Continue reading

2/12/15 O&A Reposted: Clive Thompson- The Graham Years

reposted

By Walter Rutledge

graham Jack Mitchell 001 copy

The life of a bank clerk at the Government Savings Bank in Kingston, Jamaica was not going be Clive Thompson’s fate; he had been a performer for most of his life. Clive and his sister Norma had been childhood favorites in the local talent shows and were part of the “opening act” in Children’s Corner Club at the Saturday matinees. After seeing the Katherine Dunham Dance Company perform and a chance encounter with modern dance teacher Ivy Baxter he began formal dance classes. Continue reading

2/6/15 O&A Martha Graham Dance Company Returns To The Joyce

By Walter Rutledge
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Martha Graham had a fondness for Greek literature and mythology, and utilized these larger than life characters and themes as a source for inspiration. If we were to describe the present Martha Graham Dance Company using a figure from antiquity it would definitely be the Phoenix. The death of Graham, a nasty legal battle for control of work and the changing public attitude toward “how modern was modern dance” seemed to predict the final curtain call for the venerable dance company.

So many institutions struggled to survive after the death of the company’s name sake and major artistic voice, unfortunately many were not able to redefine their mission and are now just a memory. The Graham Company has found a way to not only redefine, and like the Phoenix, to rise with a renewed vigor. Through innovative programming, thoughtful reconstructions and exciting new commissions the Martha Graham Dance Company is once again making a bold artistic statement.

After what can only be described as a triumphant return to New York City Center last year, the company will begin their 2015 New York Season Tuesday, February 10 at the Joyce Theater. The company pays tribute to Graham’s defining influence as an American Modernist with Shape&Design, a program highlighting the sculptural and architectural aspects of choreography by Graham and others. The expanded season, which runs through February 22, will offer 14 performances over twelve days. 

A Conversation With Janet Eilber- Artistic Director Martha Graham Dance Company

Panorama and Chronicle, Graham classics that set the standard for geometric force, are featured, along with Embattled Garden and Errand into the Maze, masterworks with evocative sets by Isamu Noguchi. Shape&Design includes recent works by renowned choreographers Nacho Duato, Andonis Foniadakis, and Annie-B Parson. The company celebrates the 85th anniversary of Graham’s iconic solo Lamentation with the world premiere of four new Lamentation Variations, choreographed by Kyle Abraham, Michelle Dorrance, Liz Gerring, and Sonya Tayeh.

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The performance schedule:

Program A: Feb 11, 15 at 7:30pm; Feb 12, 20-21 at 8pm; Feb 22 at 2pm – Satyric Festival Song, Embattled Garden, Lamentation Variations (including pieces by Kyle Abraham and Sonya Tayeh), Rust, Chronicle

Program B: Feb 17, 22 at 7:30pm; Feb 13-14, 19 at 8pm – Lamentation Variations (including pieces by Michelle Dorrance and Liz Gerring), Errand Into the Maze, The Snow Falls in the Winter, Echo.
Each B Program will open with Essential Shape&Design:
Feb 13 – Deep Song and Panorama
Feb 14, 17 – Frontier and “Steps in the Street”
Feb 19, 22 – Deep Song and Primitive Mysteries (Excerpt)

Program C: Feb 15, 21 at 2pm; Feb 18 at 7:30pm – Lamentation, Embattled Garden, At Summer’s Full, Errand Into the Maze, Diversion of Angels

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The Gala performance honoring Frank Gehry and Peter Arnell will take place on Tuesday February 10. The program will include Steps in the Street with stage design by Frank Gehry, Shape&Design- a film by Peter Arnell, Misty Copeland in At Summer’s Full and the World Premiere of all four Lamentation Variations by Kyle Abraham, Michelle Dorrance, Liz Gerring, and Sonya Tayeh. A Gala dinner will follow at IAC HQ, featuring Diane von Furstenberg’s Dress The Kick. For Gala tickets contact the Martha Graham Dance Company for tickets to the Gala Performance on Tuesday, February 10. For more information, email info@marthagraham.org or call 212-229-9200.

In Photo: 1)  PeiJu Chien-Pott in Lamentation 2) Xiaochuan Xie in Annie-B Parson’s The Snow Falls in the Winter 3) PeiJu Chien-Pott in Martha Graham’s Errand into the Maze

Photo Credit:  1&3) Hibbard Nash  2)Brigid Pierce

To view Graham’s masterwork Appalachian Spring click below:

Graham Letter to World 1

http://outandaboutnycmag.com/2615-shall-we-dance-friday-appalachian-spring/

 

 

Clive Thompson: The Graham Years (Part Two)

By Walter Rutledge

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The life of a bank clerk at the Government Savings Bank in Kingston, Jamaica was not going be Clive Thompson’s fate; he had been a performer for most of his life. Clive and his sister Norma had been childhood favorites in the local talent shows and were part of the “opening act” in Children’s Corner Club at the Saturday matinees. After seeing the Katherine Dunham Dance Company perform and a chance encounter with modern dance teacher Ivy Baxter he began formal dance classes.

Then the aspiring dancer saw the Martha Graham film A Dancer’s World, and he was determined to go to New York and study at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. During the summer of 1960 Clive had the opportunity to represent Jamaica at dance festivals in Cuba and Trinidad; and it was shortly after returning he decided to use his accumulated vacation time to visit New York City. He had no idea that this trip would be his “escape” from the confines of this mundane banking job, and the next great chapter in his artistic journey.

Clive arrived in New York City on August 17, 1960, and was met at the airport met by his Aunt Hazel and Uncle Boysie De Mercado.  Hazel, a registered nurse, and Boysie, an electrical engineer, had immigrated many years earlier in pursuit of the American dream.  The couple lived on Pacific Street in Brooklyn; and was eager to help their nephew navigate the city, and make a new life in the America’s most celebrated metropolis.

They not only provided him shelter, but also kept a protective and watchful eye of the young Jamaican transplant.  “I had to be home by ten clock. If I was late my Aunt Hazel would lock the door and I had to knock to get in”, chuckled Clive. There was a warm look in his eyes as he recalled those times.

Boysie accompanied him to the Graham School, paid his ten-dollar registration fee and bought him a ten-class card for twenty dollars. During his second week of classes a small, diminutive women can into class and sat in the back of the room. The class suddenly exploded with energy and a surprising vigor. A bewildered Clive said to myself, “ What’s the matter with these Americans? They’re crazy! One minute they’re groaning and the next they are working like mad.” Before the end of the class the woman approached Clive and announced, “I am Martha Graham may I speak to you?”

Clive had only seen Graham in the film where her magnetic presence made her a cinematic giant. When Clive stood up he immediately towered over modern dance’s high priestess. Unbeknownst to Clive an introduction and scholarship request from the United States Information Agency (U.S.I.A.) in Jamaica had alerted Graham to his New York visit and desire to study dance. Her mission that day was to observe him and access his potential.

Graham summoned him to her office and told him, “Clive I must have you on scholarship”. By day’s end Clive’s Visit Visa was changed to a Green Card, allowing him to work twenty hours a week. His class schedule also increased he was now taking two Graham classes, a ballet class and a choreography class with Louis Horst daily. He rose to the challenge of his hectic schedule and quickly adapted to his new environment.

“I was filled with excitement at the energy and wonder of New York City, with its Skyscrapers and never ending activities. I jumped right into the fray. It was as if my entire life in Jamaica was a preparation for my new life, which was about to be born.  I wanted to see everything relating to dance and meet everybody in dance that I could only see in the books that I have read”, recalls Thompson.

The exuberance quickly led to fatigue. On his afternoon break he would find a spot outdoors and take a nap on a bed of newspaper. Soon the hot “Dog Days” of August became a cool autumnal September, and Clive found refuge in a cinema on Second Avenue. “After my first class, I had between twelve and two free and I’d go to a movie theater on Second Avenue to sleep. Two sweet little white headed ladies who ran it would wake me up at a certain time and after a while I didn’t I didn’t even have to pay to get in.”

He finally did adjusted to his daily schedule and it soon changed from rigorous to routine. It took him less than six months to go from beginner classes to the advanced class. One day Graham came into the studio and said, “ I need a boy”. She smiled and said to Clive “Oh there you are, come.” He joined her in studio three, “Lift Helen” she requested. “She just wanted a strong boy to lift Helen McGehee, who was playing the Goddess”, laughed Clive. Graham, Helen McGehee, Clive and the pianist worked for only twenty minutes, and were able to create the entire section in that first rehearsal.

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By the time One More Gaudy Night, debuted in the 1961 season Clive’s role had been expanded and developed from Helen’s strong man into The God. Clive had also gone from a student in the school to a soloist in the company. He not only performed in classic Graham works such as Clytemnestra, Acrobats of God, Errand Into the Maze and Canticle For Innocent, and created role for him in Secular Games, Circe and Cortege of Eagles.

This was a very significant time in his development; and Graham became a major influence in the young dancer’s professional and personal life. “Martha, for me, became a mother, because I was very young, naïve and fresh from the islands. And I learned so much. When she was doing Phaedra she didn’t retell the entire tale handed down through the ages, but used one moment, trying to find out why Phaedra acted as she did to her stepson.”

“She works on that in her imagination, speculating on the reason why, and this is a wonderful approach to dance and theater, because you get involved in character. The characters unfold and become real individuals. From the moment the curtain goes up you’re telling, reliving the story right until the curtain comes down. It all unfolds with you, by you, on the stage.

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It was during this time Clive met Elizabeth Jane Lauter a dancer, choreographer and teacher. They were married on March 21st 1963. Three years later their son Christopher Eric Thompson was born and Martha Graham became his Godmother. This was an exciting and fulfilling time for Clive. In the off-season Clive became a “gypsy” dancing in the companies of Talley Beatty, Katherine Durham, Geoffrey Holder, Pearl Lang, Walter Nicks, Pearl Primus, YURIKO and the Toronto Dance Theater.

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By 1970 Clive wanted an artistic change and decided it was time to leave the Graham Company. “I remember after my difficult decision walking despondently across Sixty-third Street and running into Dudley Williams, who had been with Graham, and left long ago. He said Kelvin Rotardier was injured and Alvin Ailey needed somebody. I’d worked with Alvin in the off-season, but now I had five days to learn an entire new repertoire, and that’s when I became exclusively Ailey’s.

Look for Part 3: Alvin Ailey coming in November 2015

 In Photo: 1&2) Clive Thompson (2. in Clymenestra) 3) A birthday party for Louis Horst at M.G’s. L to R – Louis Horst, Liz Thompson, Clive Thompson,  Martha Graham and Jose Limon. Seated back to camera Helen McGehee..4) Liz, Clive and Christopher Thompson

Photo Credit: 1) Jack Mitchell 2) OLEAGA  3) Martha Swope-NYC 4) Herb Migdoll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lloyd Knight: Martha Graham Dance Company- originally posted February 29, 2012

By Walter Rutledge

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Martha Graham once said, “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.” The reason truly memorable performances reach across the footlight to connect with the audience, is because the performer is imbued with something extra. It is an almost unexplainable sharing that takes place from one soul, one spirit, to the members of audience. It is an honesty that transcends artistic discipline, language and occasionally even time. When I think of artists who have this special gift of communication, I think of Lloyd Knight

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Knight is a soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company. During his seven-year association with the company he has demonstrated a stalwart commitment and dedication to his craft and artistry. He returns to the stage this season after a year of recovering from an injury. Knight approached his physical rehabilitation with same resolute determination that has distinguished him as an artist on the ascent, and he is back this season performing the choreography he describes simply as “art”.

Born in England Knight was reared in Miami, Florida. In middle school a teacher got him to try a dance class, and he was hooked. He trained at the Miami Conservatory of Ballet, and later attended the renowned New World School of the Arts where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Knight adapted well to the long hours and rigorous training at New World School of the Arts, and he performed leading roles in Jose Limon’s There is a Time, Merce Cunningham’s Inlets II, and Donald McKayle’s Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder. It was also at the New World School of the Arts he was introduced to the choreography and technique of Martha Graham.

His strong technique, pliant physique and natural stage presence gave him the opportunity to excel in many styles of dance; but his inner muse was drawn to Graham. He auditioned for the Graham Company while a senior at New World School of the Arts, and literally walked down the aisle at graduation and into the Martha Graham Dance Company. Over the past seven years he has worked at mastering the Graham style with a passion it’s founder would have been proud to see.

In 2009 only four years after joining the company Knight was promoted to Soloist. He has performed in many of Graham’s seminal works including Errand into the Maze; and in the roles of the snake in Embattled Garden, and the preacher in what is perhaps Graham’s most recognizable work Appalachian Spring. It is little wonder that Dance Magazine named Knight one of the “Top 25 Dancers to Watch in 2010”.

The 2012 season of the Martha Graham Dance Company will begin on March 13 at the Joyce Theater. The company will revive Graham’s 1939 comic work Every Soul is a Circus. This work marked the first appearance of Merce Cunningham, who became the second male dancer (after Erick Hawkins) to join the Graham Company. In this season Knight will perform the role originally choreographed for Cunningham. Welcome back Lloyd Knight we wish you an inspired year, as we know your dancing will continue to inspire us.

(This article was originally posted February 29, 2012 for Harlem World Magazine)