By Walter Rutledge
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
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)