Baryshnikov Dance Foundation Presents;
THE SHOW (Achilles Heels)
Tuesday, April 16, 2006
The New York Times - Dance
by Claudia Larocco
Richard Move Resurrects Two Giants: Achilles
and Martha Graham
This month, Richard Move is resurrecting
a pair of giants: Achilles and Martha.
On April 27, "The Show (Achilles Heels)" makes
its New York debut at the Kitchen. And on Tuesday, Mr. Move is to embody
Martha Graham once again, this time in her company's scheduled celebration
of its 80th anniversary at the Skirball Center. His variety show "Martha
@" has been thrilling audiences around the world since 1996, but
he has never shared the stage with the grande dame's troupe.
"I love epic," he said of the two projects with
one of his big laughs. "It's in my DNA."
Rasta Thomas, most recently seen on Broadway in Twyla Tharp's
"Movin' Out," will play the beautiful, doomed Achilles. The
role was originally a vehicle for Mikhail Baryshnikov, who commissioned
the piece for his White Oak Dance Project in 2002. It was performed only
a few times before White Oak disbanded, but Mr. Baryshnikov is helping
to present it through the Baryshnikov Dance Foundation.
In directing and choreographing "The Show," Mr.
Move draws heavily on "The Iliad," but also invokes 1950's Hollywood
films and game-show culture. Mixing pure dance with elements of performance
art and a self-conscious theatricality, the work moves easily between
high drama and playfulness. Fascinated by dichotomies in the myth, Mr.
Move has emphasized both Achilles' ambivalence toward war and his desire
for glory, as well as his love affair with his childhood friend Patroclus,
whose death spurs the magnificent warrior to battle.
And, of course, there are the gods.
For Athena, Mr. Move has employed a contemporary goddess:
the new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Deborah Harry will sing and
act in this production. "She is the icon," he said of Ms. Harry.
"And somehow, the Athena story, it's a compression of her own."
Asked what she thought of being likened to an ancient warrior
goddess, Ms. Harry laughed and said she supposed she did feel as if she
was sometimes "doing battle." "He's a funny person, Richard,"
she said. Mr. Move comes up with "very interesting and beautiful
things," she added. "I can't imagine what made him be so insightful
as to try to become Martha Graham."
Though steeped in classical literature and early modern
dance, Mr. Move (real name: Richard Winberg) is a wholly contemporary
creature, one who says that "everything is available for me to use."
His apartment, in a Midtown high-rise with a truly epic view of the city,
illustrates this blend of sensibilities, from minimalist vases containing
fish and Japanese bamboo to ornately framed mirrors and an imposing skull
staff (a Graham prop).
He has given the singular Helen of Troy, who he says is
underdeveloped as a character in the literature, a special movement language:
the Graham technique. But no impersonations here. The role is performed
by Katherine Crockett, a principal dancer with the Graham company.
Mr. Move gets his chance to be Martha on Tuesday in one
of his Graham monologues and a reconstruction of the 1965 Graham duet
"Part Real, Part Dream," with the former Alvin Ailey star Desmond
Richardson. The entire evening seems part real and part dream to him —
an unimaginable opportunity, especially given that Mr. Move's relationship
with the Graham estate began on rocky footing. (When Mr. Move first started
impersonating Graham, he received a letter from lawyers for her estate
seeking among other things a disclaimer in his show's program, distancing
the estate from his production.)
"I had heard rumblings," Mr. Move said, about
being invited to perform with the company, "and I just thought, 'Oh,
puh-lease, that will never happen in a million years.' And I was shocked
and awed when I did get that call" from the Graham company's artistic
director, Janet Eilber.
Not all Graham-watchers are thrilled, but Mr. Move, well
aware that his inclusion will ruffle some feathers, seems unconcerned.
"And you know, the irony isn't lost on anyone, that my relationship
with the official Graham enterprise began with cease-and-desist orders."
He paused mischievously. "And now here I am, finally performing with
my company again."
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