Interview | Richard Move
The choreographer and TEDGlobal Fellow on how Martha Graham’s work sunk its claws into his mind, on choreographing for the Strangers with Candy film and much, much more.
And no one in Graham’s circles pushes back about what you’re doing?
Not at all. The opposite, in fact. They commissioned me to create a new work for the company in ’07, and then I performed as Graham on the 80th anniversary of the company. I did a monologue or two, and then we did an excerpt, about five minutes, of a very classic reconstruction of Part Real, Part Dream, a duet, that I did with Desmond Richardson. [The company and I] have a great relationship, and that’s largely due to a younger generation, Janet Eilber taking over as artistic director, et cetera. It’s interesting: The original Graham dancers, the ones who are in their eighties and nineties and worked with Martha in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, loved [Martha @ Mother] from the very beginning. It was the sort of in-between, B-list that gave me grief. [Laughs]
Was receiving the company’s blessing important to you?
Oh, I would’ve kept going either way. But I very much like the new relationship and I’m really honored that I got to make a work for them. To perform in that context was very important to me, and I very much like what the company is doing now. They’re going to do the Robert Wilson excerpt [from Snow on the Mesa] on our program [at the Chicago Dancing Festival]. I’m not sure what their program is the rest of the week.
Embattled Garden and Diversion of Angels.
Oh! That’s great, that’s so great. Diversion of Angels is such a beautiful, lyrical, light work compared to… Well, “light” isn’t correct. An abstract, lyrical work about joy and love. And then Embattled Garden is this kind of biblical, almost Adam-and-Eve, darker [work], with an edge to it and the Noguchi sets. I try to convey both of those sides of Martha when I perform as her, because I think that people get very caught up in the Greek period. I feel like most people associate her with those very dark, overwrought, dramatic, tragic works, and Diversion of Angels is the antithesis of that. That’s great programming, because it shows her incredible range. She was very funny at times. As everyone knows, she was also an egomaniac, at the center of the universe that she built for herself.