A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Swirling That Material - Martha Graham, Judith Garay, Simone Orlando
Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I have been on this tack before but I am so moved when I happen to notice it that I cannot resist.

On page 1 of Roland Barth's Camera Lucida he observes:

One day, quite some time ago, I happened on a photograph of Napoleon's younger brother, Jerome taken in 1852. And I realized then, with an amazement I have not been able to lessen since: "I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor." Sometimes I would mention this amazement, but since no one seemed to share it, nor even understand it (life consists of these little touches of solitude), I forgot about it. My interest in Photography took a more cultural turn.

On the other Monday Lauren and I attended a rehearsal of Dancer's Dancing. In spite of the opportunity to watch a work in progress and get a glimpse into the mind of a choreographer there were no more than 10 in the audience including Ballet BC dancer (not dancing these days because of a bad hip injury) and choreographer Simone Orlando. It was all very pleasant but I was saving my excitement for Desirée Dunbar's solo performance. I was not disappointed.

Dunbar was wearing a long purple dress/skirt/cover that she swirled so that you could see her beautiful and muscular legs. And she swung around a large collection of purses (I will not explain except to say that when Lauren looked at all the purses on the floor, before the performance, and questioned me, I just said, "Perhaps she is going shopping.") I chatted with Dunbar after and found out she is from Lillooet. I told her about my daughter who teaches there. But I found the time to ask her, "The swirling skirt - does that have anything to do with Judith's (Judith Garay) former mentor (Martha Graham)?" Dunbar answered, "Yes."

It is no accident that the most famous photograph of Martha Graham (and one of the most famous photographs of dance) taken by Barbara Morgan features Martha Graham in a swirling dress.

As I left and spied Judith Garay and Simone Orlando chatting I wondered if soon, Orlando might not choreograph something that has swirling dresses. I would bet on it.


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