An Evening Celebrating the Martha Graham Dance Company

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Martha Graham changed dance forever 86 years ago when she founded her dance company. Her work is still a powerful influence today and the Martha Graham Dance Company is going strong season after season. They opened last Tuesday with a program that featured pieces by the legendary choreophrapher and some that paid homage to her work. At their annual gala last week, they stuck to a performance of classic pieces, showcasing world-renowned dancers and following with a celebration at the Russia Tea Room.

The show opened with “Appalachian Spring” and was followed by “Errand into the Maze” with international ballet superstar Diana Vishenva playing the part of the heroine escaping the Minotaur in the labyrinth. “To me, Martha Graham choreography is like the adventures of the blind cat in the darkness; you are making the steps that you’ve never done before,” Vishenva, principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre and Mariinsky Ballet, told the Huffngton Post.

Dancer Fang-Yi Sheu, who left two years ago to form her own company, returned to amaze in “Chroncle,” a dance that incorporates a long flowing skirt into the choreography and dispels the notion you should never play with your outfit. A flurry of dancers wowed the audience and received enthusiastic cheers of “Bravo” with “Diversion of Angels” with dancer Xiaochuan Xie stealing the spotlight with perfect grace and a smile that made it apparent she was really enjoying herself.

After, over 200 guests head next door to The Russian Tea Room for dinner under the brass chandaliers in the Bear Ballroom, which was decorated with white floral arrangements. Guests discussed the performance and dined on seared filet mignon and chocolate soufflé cake while a band played. Glasses were raised to the evening’s honorees Lee Traub, who first studied dance with Martha Graham in 1942 and now sits on several boards of dance and cultural organizations, and Marvin Traub, the Chairman of marketing and consulting firm Marvin Traub Associates and former CEO and President of Bloomingdales.

“I was just sitting there, thinking back about how many years I used to sit backstage with Lee and Martha and watch the company perform….My greatest memory is having three chairs back to the side offstage: Martha in the middle, Lee and I on each side of her, watching the company perform,” Mr. Traub told WWD.

Having finished their meals, attendees head down a level to the gorgeous Bear Lounge. Guests mingled with the Company’s dancers near a giant water-filled juggling bear (which this reporter first thought was a turned off fountain but then later realized is actually the world’s most awesome fishatnk) and busted a mild mannered move themselves to the sounds of the Marc Schmied Quartet near a huge, golden tree adorned with giant, dangling Faberge eggs.

The gala was a success, raising over $ $284,150.00.


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