Martha Graham at the Guggenheim

by Marcina Zaccaria . . .

I took my place at Number 31.  With positions notated on the ledge overlooking the Rotunda, spectators remained socially distanced while watching a performance from the Martha Graham Dance Company. 

The first indoor event in over a year can fill one with trepidation.  The Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, has a breathtaking spiraling design.  A large ramp allows visitors to test their quadriceps with the incline before gazing at the light from the window beaming through the ceiling.  On the second level, I was able to look across to see visitors strolling around the paintings.  Above me was a large screen, suspended from the ceiling, where the Re/Projections films were shown.

At 1:15PM, the dancers stepped into the black marley in the Rotunda.  Over the half hour performance, I would see four separate dances.  The first, a solo piece featured contraction with an extraordinary shuttering of breath.  Reaching down and up, Lloyd Knight’s arms spiraled through his center.  Rippling muscles in his legs and back were so clearly visible.  A burst of applause from the audience was released.  Perhaps, it was the exhilaration at being able to finally watch a performance with over 100 people at an indoor location.  For the second piece, Natasha M Diamond-Walker appeared in a long skirt and stepped atop two round, black platforms to perform Spectre-1914.  Releasing breath on the exhale, she pointed her foot, reaching to the sky.  Her tall presence conjured images of a supernatural world beyond our reach.  A dazzling use of black and red fabric her cape fell effortlessly while she crossed through the center of the space, before finding the tremendous height again.

By the duet, spectators just joyous not to be at lockdown might become more critical.  The lifts in Martha Graham’s Saraband looked strenuous with being fatiguing.  Xin Ying and Lloyd Knight leaned on one another like planks testing each other.  Their costuming, evocative of art deco with strong consideration of international artistry, paid strict attention to straight form.  Finally, in the last piece, Ekstasis, the dancer from the second piece appeared again, this time exuding a sensuous presence with a practiced series of curved movement.  Her almost sheer, light fabric accentuated every curve.  With great reach up to the heavens, she grounded down, while gazing out in all directions.  Photographers snapped pictures at floor level, as Natasha M Diamond-Walker easily took in all of the attendees on the spiraling ramp above her and all the guests arriving at the entrance in the Rotunda where the Works & Process Bubble Performance will continue.

The Works & Process series included Daytime Pop Up Performances through April 19, 2021.  Works & Process Bubble Performances will be in the Rotunda until June 20.  The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is located at 1071 Fifth Avenue in NYC.  Safety measures were provided before entrance to the museum.  Additional details can be found at: worksandprocess.org

Photos: Diego Quintanar

Share