Martha Graham Dance Company Principal Dancer Lloyd Knight shares a first look at an intimate and personal solo inspired by the women in his life, his mother and Martha Graham. Knight’s work brings together research in the Martha Graham archive that was facilitated through a fellowship at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Jerome Robbins Dance Division and Works & Process LaunchPAD creative residencies with choreographer Jack Ferver and filmmaker Jeremy Jacob at Bridge Street Theatre, Modern Accord Depot, and Watermill Center. This in-process new work lays bare what it takes both physically and psychologically to pursue a life in dance and explores Knight’s youth, upbringing, and what drew him initially to Graham from an early age.
See highlights from Company Stefanie Batten Bland’s Embarqued: Stories of Soil. A ship mast rises from the stage and reaches toward both our past and our present—recalling slave ships, memorials, and monuments—as meanings unfurl through dance. This dance-theater work, performed by a cast of five, is based on an excavation of self and country that is expressed through textiles, skin tones, labor, land, humor, and moving bodies, offering rich storytelling and a visceral journey toward wholeness, connecting people and places through an unfolding time continuum. The work invites reflection of our shared history and interrogates our relationship with memorialization, revealing post-colonial foundations and mythologies.
Woven into the performances, Jerome Robbins Dance Division Curator Linda Murray moderates a discussion with Batten Bland, Knight, Ferver, and Jacob.
Embarqued: Stories of Soil received commissioning support from ArtYard and the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Embarqued was created through critical research and creative residencies provided by ArtYard, Duke Performances at Duke University, and The Yard in Chilmark, Massachusetts, in partnership with Martha's Vineyard Museum and Martha's Vineyard African American Heritage Trail. Embarqued was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts's National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Foundation and Mellon Foundation. The project has received additional support from Jerome Robbins Foundation, New Music USA, and a Works & Process LaunchPAD residency at The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University.
Left: Lloyd Knight. Photo: M. Sharkey; right: Company Stefanie Batten Bland in Embarqued: Stories of Soil. Photo: Maria Baranova