Martha Graham Dance Company’s “The EVE Project” at The Soraya

Leslie Andrea Williams in Martha Graham’s Chronicle. Photo: Hibbard Nash Photography.

Martha Graham Dance Company presents a two-year initiative, The EVE Project, set to launch on Saturday, March 2 at 8:00pm at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya) in Northridge. The performance is in celebration of the upcoming 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the power to vote,
The evening’s presentation will include a world premiere by Bessie Award-winning choreographer Pam Tanowitz, Untitled (Souvenir) danced to Punctum and Valencia, string quartets by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, all performed live by LA’s modern music collective, wildUp, conducted by Christopher Rountree.

The program also includes Martha Graham classics Secular Games and Chronicle, and Woodland by Pontus Lidberg.  Graham’s American Document will be performed by local dance students.

“The collaboration between the Martha Graham Company and wild Up two years ago was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve had the pleasure to bring to The Soraya,” said Thor Steingraber, Executive Director of The Soraya.  “Janet Eilber, director of the company, reminded me that Martha Graham traveled with musicians, performed with live music, and commissioned new orchestral pieces for many decades. In that spirit, it was important that The Soraya repeat the Graham and wild Up partnership this year by supporting a world premiere with live music.”

Steingraber continued, “For this occasion, Eilber invited Pam Tanowitz, one of the world’s most exciting choreographers, to choreograph to the music of Pulitzer-winning composer Caroline Shaw.  wild Up conductor Christopher Rountree also shares a long-standing relationship with Shaw, making for a trio of unmatched talent.  We’re proud to launch The Eve Project, which will subsequently crisscross the globe and commemorate the centenary of the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote.”


The EVE Project

Saturday, March 2 at 8:00pm

Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya)
18111 Nordhoff Street,

Northridge, CA 91330

Prices:  Starting at $39.00  Prices subject to change.
By Phone: (818) 677-3000

A somewhat different Eve Project Program will be presented at Irvine Barclay Theatre on Wednesday, February 27.  For tickets and information please visit or call (949) 854-4646 x1.

About the Martha Graham Dance Company’s The EVE Project:

The women who hit the streets for voting rights in 1920 forged a path still followed by the Women’s March today. That 100-year history is celebrated by the Martha Graham Dance Company with a program featuring female protagonists, and including Chronicle, Graham’s unforgettable 1936 anti-war masterpiece.

Martha Graham Dance Company’s Artistic Director Janet Eilber said, “The EVE Project is intended to connect audiences — in the ephemeral and visceral way dance does — to both historical and contemporary ideas of the feminine.”

This past summer, The New York Times hailed choreographer Pam Tanowitz’ latest work, “dance theater of the highest caliber.”  For The EVE Project, Tanowitz draws on some of Graham’s dances, including The Legend of Judith from 1967 and Dark Meadow (1946). Incorporating elements of the vocabulary and phrasing from Graham’s work, Tanowitz takes the iconic movement and shapes it into something new. Costumes are by designers Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin of TOME.

Tanowitz was awarded a Bessie Award in 2009, a Foundation for Contemporary Arts award in 2010, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011, and the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University in 2013–14. In 2016 Tanowitz was the Juried Bessie Award winner for her work the story progresses as if in a dream of glittering surfaces, and a recipient of a National Dance Project production grant for her work New Work for Goldberg Variations, a collaboration with pianist Simone Dinnerstein. In 2017 Tanowitz was the recipient of the Baryshnikov Arts Center’s prestigious Cage Cunningham Fellowship. Her work was selected by the New York Times “Best of Dance” series in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018.

Tanowitz has been commissioned by The Joyce Theater, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Bard Summerscape Festival, Vail International Dance Festival, New York Live Arts, the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process series, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and Peak Performances, among others. She has also created or set work on the Juilliard School, Ballet Austin, New York Theater Ballet, and Saint Louis Ballet. In 2000, she founded Pam Tanowitz Dance to explore dance-making with a consistent community of dancers. Tanowitz holds dance degrees from Ohio State University and Sarah Lawrence College, and currently teaches at Rutgers University.

The EVE Project program also features a range of Graham’s own works including Chronicle with music by Wallingford Riegger (1936) which has social activism embodied in the cast of 11 powerful women, and the original Secular Games, not been seen in decades, offering a wry look at sexual politics with music by Robert Starer (1962).

Also included is Pontus Lindberg’s Woodland (2016), a whimsical piece set to string music by Irving Fine.  Graham’s American Document to music of William Schuman (1938) will open the program performed by  students from throughout the area


The Soraya 2020 Spring Season and Dance:

When Aspen Santa Fe Ballet took to The Soraya stage on January 19, the company not only celebrated its fourth year of residency, but also unveiled choreographer Fernando Melo’s latest work, Dream Play, to the growing dance audience at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, CSUN Northridge.   Melo is one of three choreographers whose work was highlighted in that performance — Alexander Ekman’s Tuplet and Jorma Elo’s 1st Flash completde the evening’s program.

With this Martha Graham Company performance, rising star Pam Tanowitz, whom The New York Times calls “one of the most formally brilliant choreographers around,” adds her name to the stellar list of dance makers whose work will be performed onstage at The Soraya this season. Additionally, famed Ballet Preljocaj returns to The Soraya on Thursday, April 18 with La Fresque (or The Painting on the Wall), based on a Chinese traditional folk story.

Executive Director Thor Steingraber explains, “I’m proud to share with Los Angeles audiences some of the most notable and inventive choreographers living and working today.  Preljocaj, Tanowitz, Elo – there are only a few important dance venues worldwide where you could experience the works of all these luminaries.  We have these opportunities, in part, because of our ongoing relationship with these companies – Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, now in its fourth-year residency and Martha Graham Company returning for the third time.  In addition dance presentations, we program cultural dance programs under the Music Knows No Borders banner, with some of the finest Tango, Flamenco, classical and folk artists from around the globe.”

About the Martha Graham Dance Company:

The Martha Graham Dance Company has been a leader in contemporary dance since 1926. Today, the Company is embracing a new programming vision that showcases masterpieces by Graham alongside newly commissioned works by contemporary artists. With programs that offer a rich thematic narrative, the Company creates new platforms for contemporary dance and multiple points of access for audiences.

Since its inception, the Martha Graham Dance Company has received international acclaim from audiences in more than 50 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Russia, and the Middle East. The Company has performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House, Covent Garden, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as at the base of the Great Pyramids in Egypt and in the ancient Herod Atticus Theatre on the Acropolis in Athens. In addition, the Company has also produced several award-winning films broadcast on PBS and around the world.

Recognized as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century Martha Graham created a movement language based upon the expressive capacity of the human body. It all began in 1926 when Martha Graham started teaching a group of dancers who had been drawn to her creative work. Thus began the Martha Graham Studio, to remain under her personal guidance for the next 66 years. When official accreditation came to dance in 1980 with the formation of the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), it adopted Martha Graham’s term, “Professional Studio School” to denote independent dance studios that teach to professional standards. Students who have studied at the Martha Graham School have moved on to professional dance companies such as the Martha Graham Dance Company, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Jose Limon Dance Company, the Buglisi Dance Theater, Rioult Dance Theater, The Battery Dance Company, Noemi Lafrance Dance Company, as well as other companies throughout the world and well known Broadway shows.

About the Program

American Document
Choreography by Martha Graham, reimagined by Oliver Tobin
Music by William Schuman
Lighting by Yi-Chung Chen
Premiere: August 6, 1938 – Vermont State Armory, Bennington, VT
World Premiere of American Document (reimagined): March 2, 2019, The Younes & Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, Northridge, CA
Students from California State University–Northridge

Secular Games
Choreography by Martha Graham
Music by Robert Starer
Lighting by Jean Rosenthal
Sets by Marion Kinsella
Premiere:  August 17, 1962, Palmer Auditorium, New London, Connecticut
I.  Play with thought- on a Socratic Island
II.  Play with dream – on a Utopian Island
III.  Play – on any Island
So Young An, Alessio Crognale, Laurel Dalley Smith, Natasha M. Diamond-Walker, Lloyd Knight   Charlotte Landreau, Jacob Larsen, Lloyd Mayor, Lorenzo Pagano, Ben Schultz, Anne Souder, Leslie Andrea Williams
Music originally published by Leeds Music Corp. under the title “Concerto a Tre”
Secular Games premiered in 1962 and was hailed by critics as “a joyous new work” and “one of Miss Graham’s most exciting pure dance works”.  With a cast of six men and six women, and with a nod to Graham’s affinity for ancient Greece, the dance is performed in three sections: on a “Socratic Island,” an “Utopian Island” and on “any Island.”  The setting is a beach – a beach towel even appears at one point — and the onstage set references islands in the distance.  This dance has no story.  It is a romp for the Company — a comedic look at the universal antics of humans trying to impress each other, falling in and out of love, competing and indulging in pursuits that are entirely human.  The audience may want to imagine they are watching these characters and random interactions while reclining on their own beach towel.
Clive Barnes gave this description in his review of Secular Games for the New York Times in 1965:
“The title presumably indicates a ballet about the relationship of man with mankind rather than man with God, and this delightfully witty (not funny, witty) work reveals a multitude of sudden encounters, swift partings and odd juxtapositions of character and dance.  A theme here and a theme there, vague wisps of suggestion, an erotic love duet, a dance of shameless gallantry, or an intellectual seeming dance – the whole ballet is a mass of nothing very specific, yet conveys an odd undefined air of some golden age when it was good just to be alive.”
Over 50 years later, we can still enter into this vintage idyllic world, and recognize the timeless foibles of men and women playing together.

Choreography by Pontus Lidberg
Music by Irving Fine
Costumes by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung
Mask Patterns by Wintercroft Designs
Lighting by Nick Hung
Premiere: April 1, 2016, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Marzia Memoli
Alessio Crognale, Laurel Dalley Smith, Lloyd Knight, Charlotte Landreau, Lloyd Mayor, Anne O’Donnell,   Lorenzo Pagano, Leslie Andrea Williams
Co-commissioned by the Verna and Irving Fine Fund in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC and the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, Inc.
Woodland is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Notturno for Strings and Harp
Using Irving Fine’s music as my point of departure, rather than using a concept, I heard structure as well as possible imagery: woodland, moonlight and wandering creatures. I wanted to interact with the music, not just impose choreography on it, so I chose to reorder the movements and add a repeat, turning a linear work into one that is almost cyclical—a structure that I’ve explored continuously in my compositions. I also often take inspiration and impetus from the dancers, and the Graham dancers have been a generous and inspiring group of collaborators. Woodland was developed in collaboration with these dancers. In the end, as in many of my works, the individual is a counterpoint to the group—somewhat isolated and looking for the means to connect with others, all the while remaining separated on a singular trajectory. —PONTUS LIDBERG

Untitled (Souvenir)
World Premiere
Choreography by Pam Tanowitz
Music by Caroline Shaw
Lighting by Yi-Chung Chen
Costumes by Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin of TOME
Laurel Dalley Smith, Natasha M. Diamond-Walker, Lloyd Knight, Charlotte Landreau, Lloyd Mayor, Anne O’Donnell, Lorenzo Pagano, Leslie Andrea Williams
 “Punctum” for string quartet and “Valencia” for string quartet.
Untitled (Souvenir) is set to two Caroline Shaw scores and inspired by old Graham dances. I was inspired by movement from a variety of Graham works – some well-known, some obscure. The process of taking historical movement and adding and shaping it into something new has been a part of my artistic process for a long time.
In one way, what I do is not new. I make steps to music. Choreographers have being doing this for centuries. Rather than search for innovation separate from what came before, I embrace the past. I don’t see antiquated steps that have no meaning in contemporary society. I see direct links to the ways we move, express, and relate in the present day.  I am intensely captivated with these connections and am able to manipulate and renovate familiar vocabulary so still feels at the same time hauntingly familiar, and also relevant and raw and fresh. I see a centuries-old art form steeped in tradition and history, full of possibilities and immediacy for the 21st century, for the future of dance and performance.   – PAM TANOWITZ

Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham
Music by Wallingford Riegger
Original lighting by Jean Rosenthal
Lighting for reconstruction (“Steps in the Street”) by David Finley
Lighting for reconstruction (“Spectre–1914”, “Prelude to Action”) by Steven L. Shelley
Premiere: December 20, 1936, Guild Theater, New York City
Chronicle does not attempt to show the actualities of war; rather does it, by evoking war’s images, set forth the fateful prelude to war, portray the devastation of spirit which it leaves in its wake, and suggest an answer. (Original program note)
I. Spectre–1914
Drums—Red Shroud—Lament
Xin Ying
II. Steps in the Street
Anne Souder
So Young An, Alyssa Cebulski, Laurel Dalley Smith, Natasha M. Diamond-Walker, Charlotte Landreau, Cara McManus, Marzia Memoli, Anne O’Donnell, Leslie Andrea Williams
III. Prelude to Action
Xin Ying. Anne Souder
So Young An, Alyssa Cebulski, Laurel Dalley Smith, Natasha M. Diamond-Walker, Charlotte Landreau, Cara McManus, Marzia Memoli, Anne O’Donnell, Leslie Andrea Williams

“Spectre–1914” researched and reconstructed in 1994 by Terese Capucilli and Carol Fried, from film clips and Barbara Morgan photographs. “Steps in the Street” reconstructed in 1989 by Yuriko and Martha Graham, from the Julien Bryan film. “Prelude to Action” reconstructed in 1994 by Sophie Maslow, assisted by Terese Capucilli, Carol Fried, and Diane Gray, from film clips and Barbara Morgan photographs.
Finale from New Dance, Opus 18b (for “Steps in the Street”), orchestrated by Justin Dello Joio, used by arrangement with Associated Music Publishers, Inc., publisher and copyright owner. Additional orchestrations by Stanley Sussman.
Chronicle premiered at the Guild Theater in New York City on December 20, 1936. The dance was a response to the menace of fascism in Europe; earlier that year, Graham had refused an invitation to take part in the 1936 Olympic Games in Germany, stating: “I would find it impossible to dance in Germany at the present time. So many artists whom I respect and admire have been persecuted, have been deprived of the right to work for ridiculous and unsatisfactory reasons, that I should consider it impossible to identify myself, by accepting the invitation, with the regime that has made such things possible. In addition, some of my concert group would not be welcomed in Germany” (a reference to the fact that many members of her group were Jewish). “Chronicle does not attempt to show the actualities of war; rather does it, by evoking war’s images, set forth the fateful prelude to war, portray the devastation of spirit which it leaves in its wake, and suggest an answer.” This is one of the very few dances Martha Graham made which can be said to express explicitly political ideas, but, unlike Immediate Tragedy (1937) and Deep Song (1937), dances she made in response to the Spanish Civil War, this dance is not a realistic depiction of events. The intent is to universalize the tragedy of war. The original dance, with a score by Wallingford Riegger, was forty minutes in length, divided into five sections: “Dances before Catastrophe: Spectre–1914 and Masque,” “Dances after Catastrophe: Steps in the Street and Tragic Holiday,” and “Prelude to Action.” The Company has reconstructed and now performs “Spectre–1914,” “Steps in the Street” and “Prelude to Action.”

About Martha Graham:

Martha Graham’s creativity crossed artistic boundaries and embraced every artistic genre. She collaborated with and commissioned work from the leading visual artists, musicians, and designers of her day, including sculptor Isamu Noguchi and fashion designers Halston, Donna Karan, and Calvin Klein, as well as composers Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, William Schuman, Norman Dello Joio, and Gian Carlo Menotti.

Influencing generations of choreographers and dancers including Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp, Graham forever altered the scope of dance. Classical ballet dancers Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov sought her out to broaden their artistry, and artists of all genres were eager to study and work with Graham—she taught actors including Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, Madonna, Liza Minelli, Gregory Peck, Tony Randall, Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, and Joanne Woodward to utilize their bodies as expressive instruments.

Graham’s groundbreaking style grew from her experimentation with the elemental movements of contraction and release. By focusing on the basic activities of the human form, she enlivened the body with raw, electric emotion. The sharp, angular, and direct movements of her technique were a dramatic departure from the predominant style of the time.

With an artistic practice deeply ingrained in the rhythm of American life and the struggles of the individual, Graham brought a distinctly American sensibility to every theme she explored. “A dance reveals the spirit of the country in which it takes root. No sooner does it fail to do this than it loses its integrity and significance,” she wrote in the 1937 essay A Platform for the American Dance.
Consistently infused with social, political, psychological, and sexual themes, Graham’s choreography is timeless, connecting with audiences past and present. Works such as Revolt (1927), Immigrant: Steerage, Strike (1928), and Chronicle (1936)—created the same year she turned down Hitler’s invitation to perform at the International Arts Festival organized in conjunction with the Olympic Games in Berlin—personify Graham’s commitment to addressing challenging contemporary issues and distinguish her as a conscientious and politically powerful artist.

Martha Graham remained a strong advocate of the individual throughout her career, creating works such as Deaths and Entrances (1943), Appalachian Spring (1944), Dark Meadow (1946), and Errand into the Maze (1947) to explore human and societal complexities. The innovative choreography and visual imagery of American Document(1938) exemplified Graham’s genius. The dramatic narrative, which included the Company’s first male dancer, explored the concept of what it means to be American. Through the representation of important American cultural groups such as Native Americans, African-Americans, and Puritans and the integration of text from historical American documents, Graham was able to capture the soul of the American people.

During her long and illustrious career, Graham created 181 masterpiece dance compositions, which continue to challenge and inspire generations of performers and audiences. In 1986, she was given the Local One Centennial Award for dance by her theater colleagues, awarded only once every 100 years, and during the Bicentennial she was granted the United States’ highest civilian honor, The Medal of Freedom. In 1998, TIME Magazine named her the “Dancer of the Century.” The first dancer to perform at the White House and to act as a cultural ambassador abroad, she captured the spirit of a nation and expanded the boundaries of contemporary dance. “I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer,” she said. “It’s permitting life to use you in a very intense way. Sometimes it is not pleasant. Sometimes it is fearful. But nevertheless it is inevitable.”

About wild Up:
wild Up is an experimental classical ensemble. A flexible band of Los Angeles musicians committed to creating visceral, thought-provoking happenings. The group, led by artistic director and conductor Christopher Rountree, unites around the belief that no music is off limits, and that a concert space should be as moving as the music heard in it: small, powerful and unlike anything else. Our projects are meant to bring people together, defy convention and address the need for heart-wrenching, mind-bending experiences.

About Christopher Rountree (Director, wild Up):
Christopher Rountree founded wild Up in 2010. He first fell in love with music playing bass in a garage band, trombone in a brass band, and watching the Berlin Philharmonic play Brahms and Bartok.

This year, Rountree makes his Chicago Symphony, LA Opera and Atlanta Opera debuts, returns to the Music Academy of the West and twice to the San Francisco Symphony’s SoundBox series, conducts the Interlochen World Youth Orchestra on the New York Philharmonic’s 2016 Biennial, joins Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner with wild Up at the Laguna Beach Music Festival, and conducts Diavolo’s new show “L’Espace du Temps: Glass, Adams, and Salonen.” As a composer, his recent premieres and commissions include a new piece for The Crossing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a re-orchestration of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Foreign Bodies, a choral work for Bjork’s choir Graduale Nobili in Reykjavik, Iceland, and two new pieces for Jennifer Koh: a short theater piece on the New York Philharmonic’s Biennial, and a large scale concerto co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Jenny and wild Up.

Last year, Rountree founded an education intensive with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, continued an education partnership at the Colburn School, and taught “Creativity and Consciousness” at Bard College’s Longy School. He joined the production company Chromatic, conducted Opera Omaha performing John Adams’ “A Flowering Tree,” debuted on the San Francisco Symphony’s SoundBox series, and started a three-year stint as guest conductor of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

With his eclectic style and resume, he’s been tapped to curate and create events for contemporary art institutions including the Getty Museum, MCA Denver, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and UCLA’s Hammer Museum, where a long-running wild Up residency brought the group to national prominence.

Rountree is a seventh-generation Californian descended from the sheriffs of Santa Cruz county. He is a yogi, unpaid psychoanalyst, cutter of vegetables, storyteller, newfound gym-rat, burrito enthusiast, writer, composer, and teacher.

About Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya):
The 2018-19 Season marks the eighth year the award-winning Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts which has quickly become one of the cultural jewels of the greater Los Angeles region. Under the leadership of Executive Director Thor Steingraber, The Soraya continues to expand its programming and outstanding multidisciplinary performances.  The mission of The Soraya is to present a wide variety of performances that not only includes new and original work from the Los Angeles region but also work from around the world that appeal to all of LA’s rich and diverse communities.
Located on the campus of California State University, Northridge, The Soraya’s season offers a vibrant performance program of nearly 50 classical and popular music, dance, theater, family, and international events that will serve to establish The Soraya as the intellectual and cultural heart of the San Fernando Valley, and further establish itself as one of the top arts companies in Southern California. The award-winning, 1,700-seat theatre was designed by HGA Architects and Engineers and was recently cited by the Los Angeles Times as “a growing hub for live music, dance, drama and other cultural events.”






Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.


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