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Views, 9-19: Public Domain
Eilber, Capucilli, Dakin and Hodes on Free Graham
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2002 The Dance Insider
Among the 69 Martha
Graham works freed from the clutches of Ron Protas last month by
federal Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum were ten dances the judge
decreed as belonging to the public domain: "Appalachian Spring,"
"Night Journey," "Chronicle/Steps in the Street," "Lamentation,"
"American Document," "Heretic," "Flute of Krishna," "Frontier,"
"Panorama," and "Celebration."
Public domain means
that technically speaking, anyone can now perform the dances. Well,
not actually -- legally, anyone can perform these masterpieces,
but technically, it takes some schooling to do justice to the work
of Martha Graham.
Mindful of the great
concern of all in the Graham community that this work be done right
-- so thin is the line between it coming across as authentically
from the heart and mind and as just so much modern melodrama --
I posed the following question to four legendary Graham dancers:
The biggest news to
many other dance companies (let alone universities and more) is
going to be that ten of the dances can now, theoretically, be performed
by anyone. Rather, anyone has the right to perform them because
they are in public domain. How can we ensure that these dances are
Answering the question
were longtime Graham dancer and former artistic director designate
Janet Eilber; current co-artistic coordinators Terese Capucilli
and Christine Dakin; and Stuart Hodes, dean of the Martha Graham
School of Contemporary Dance.
Janet Eilber: "This
is an opportunity for the Center to forge relationships with the
major university dance departments. The works should be the basis
of intensive Graham residencies which send our teachers into the
universities to teach the technique and allow the students to realize
its depth by experiencing it onstage. Only then can they truly understand
the relevance of the technique and of Martha's inimitable contribution.
It has been a dream of mine to see more of the Graham repertoire
performed by students. And the Center will reap the benefits of
having a relationship with the newest generation of dancers, critics,
administrators, teachers, funders."
Terese Capucilli: "Clearly
one has to realize that there is an extraordinary technique and
a beautiful philosophy that surrounds Martha's work. There are generations
of dancers who have experienced Martha's theater in a very certain
way that would make their expertise invaluable to anyone wanting
to perform those works that are in the public domain. It is the
utter responsibility of the directors of these companies and universities
to make certain that Martha's work is presented in the best light.
Although nothing could replace the years of dedication and training
in this technique and theater that allows one the freedom to perform
Martha's work with the integrity it deserves, training of some clear
and thought out way in the technique prior to and during the learning
of the piece is essential. With these ballets in the public domain,
licensing fees that won't need to be paid could be put into assuring
that the integrity of the work is upheld by bringing in the proper
source of teaching and coaching. We, the dance communtiy, are ALL
responsible for Martha's work now."
"We hope that whoever
thinks to do those of Martha's works that are in the public domain
will call upon us to help them do so. The Company will of course
continue to perform them as we have for the history of the Company.
Since we began our struggle back to existence it has been important
to do it with the contribution of as many of the generations before
us as possible. Making use of this, glorying in our deep and rich
past, we have the knowledge, experience and resources to help keep
the works true to her vision. We will share this with those who
want to see that artistic integritymaintained."
Stuart Hodes: "I celebrate
the ten dances in the public domain, inevitably to be danced one
day by dancers not deemed 'qualified,' for I have enough faith in
Martha's choreography not to worry about that, although Martha herself
never lost that worry. Nor can her dances ever be diminished by
'over exposure' anymore than 'Nutcracker' is diminished."
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