The Buzz, 5-30: Fissures
& Fusions, Romance & Cigarettes
Eilber Replaces Capucilli & Dakin as Graham Cuts Staff; Brouk &
Co. Meet Turturro, Gandolfini & Co.
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2005 The Dance Insider
As initially reported
Friday by the Dance Insider to its e-mail list, the board of the
New York-based Martha Graham Dance Company has inexplicably replaced
artistic directors Terese Capucilli and Christine Dakin with West
Coast-based Janet Eilber, a Graham veteran who currently directs
the Martha Graham Resources and who did not commit to moving full-time
to New York nor to being at every rehearsal or performance. Acknowledging
a cash flow deficit, it also eliminated eight full-time positions
from its 36-person full-time administrative staff. (The company's
web site lists 28 dance artists). Beyond insisting Capucilli and
Dakin would remain with the company to "focus on and foster the
classic Martha Graham works through performance and special projects,"
board chair Francis Mason declined to explain the board's decision.
At presstime, neither
Capucilli nor Dakin had responded to an e-mailed request for comment.
Asked if they would remain on salary, Eilber said details were still
being worked out. "I hope Christine and Terese will continue to
guide many of our artistic projects," she said. "We invited them
to direct two projects at Jacob's Pillow and Bard. They do not feel
comfortable taking on that role until our transition is better defined."
Mason credited Capucilli
and Dakin, appointed co-directors in 2002, with "enabling the company
to resume dancing on the heels of now past (sic) legal matters with
unanticipated speed. They have brought the (Graham) works back to
life with more impact and power than anyone could have imagined
and we now have the daunting task of sustaining this success."
In a statement released
Friday, the board said that the personnel changes "are being made
in order to reduce fixed ongoing operating costs so that the organization
can attain a positive cash flow without compromising artistic quality."
The 'reorganization,' Eilber told the DI, is "a response to needing
a better ratio between earned and contributed income and expenses."
She declined to say whether the company is currently running a deficit,
deferring the question to executive director Marvin Preston, but
said it is making payroll. She also declined to say how long the
dancers' current contract runs, deferring that question to the company's
In a letter to Preston obtained and published by the Dance
Insider last summer, Capucilli and Dakin referred to the company's
"continuing financial disaster."
While she will join
the company for "most of the summer" and "a portion of each month"
during the school year, Eilber told the dancers in a letter a copy
of which she provided to the DI, she did not commit to moving to
New York -- a reluctance which became an obstacle the last time
she was appointed artistic director, to replace Ron Protas.
Earlier this month,
the Graham Center returned to federal court to defend its rights
to the Graham works "Embattled Garden," "Episodes: Part 1," "Phaedra,"
'Secular Games," "Legend of Judith," and "Witch of Endor." The court
had earlier awarded the center the rights to most of the
Graham works over Graham legal heir Protas.
(Buzz disclosure: The
Graham organization's recent shabby treatment of the Dance Insider
makes it challenging to try to write objectively about its current
travails. I have done my best.)
Say Hello to Hollywood
New York dancer Tricia
Brouk, a veteran of the companies of Lucinda Childs, David Gordon,
and Ben Munisteri (where I worked with her), makes her Hollywood
choreographing and dancing debut in the upcoming "Romance & Cigarettes,"
directed by John Turturro with a cast headlined by James Gandolfini,
Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Christopher Walken, and Steve Buscemi.
The film, a musical,
"includes many dancers from the community," Brouk tells the DI.
Roz Leblanc, Kate Johnson, Karen Graham, Elizabeth Parkinson, John
Selya, Alexandra Bellar, Joao Carvalho, John Kelly, Gus Solomons
jr, Lisa Tachick, Alexander Escalante, Rebecca Wender, Gelan Lambert
Jr., Kelly Grigsby, Valerie Strair, Chris Morgan, Cady Huffman,
and Adele Meyers are among those who will be dancing with La Brouk.
The score of popular music ranges from Engelbert Humperdinck to
Bruce Springsteen to Cyndi Lauper. Sometimes the actors sing "over
the original songs, so you hear both voices," Brouk says. "Sometimes
they are just lip-synching." The actors also dance. "I was able
to work with each of them on the way their character would move,"
she explains. "Then the choreography or the 'organized emotionally
driven physicalization' would happen."
The story concerns a
blue-collar worker (Gandolfini) and his family. "Gandolfini's character
has a affair with Kate Winslet's character and Susan Sarandon plays
his wife," Brouk says. "John calls it a 'Savage Musical.' I choreographed
the dances in the film. There are several -- it's a full-on musical.
I even made a dance with Doris Humphrey in mind. I am a modern dancer,
you know. There is also a dance with nine pregnant women that was
inspired by MGM musicals and Kurasawa's "Seven Samurai."