Irvine Barclay Theatre

Martha Graham Dance Company Celebrates Women With Inspirational Dance Program

Martha Graham Dance Company brings The Eve Project to Irvine Barclay Theatre.

Martha Graham Dance Company

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 at 8pm

Tickets: $58, $68, $150

Irvine Barclay Theatre - 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine CA | 949.854.4646

Janet Eilber, artistic director


Martha Graham changed the face of dance. Capturing the spirit of a nation, she brought a distinctly American sensibility to every theme she explored. Graham’s groundbreaking style enlivened the body with raw, electric emotion and continues to challenge and inspire generations of performers and audiences.

In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, affording women the right to vote, the Eve Project features a comprehensive range of women choreographers, from the deepest roots of modern dance—Martha Graham's heroines and anti-heroines—to contemporary superstars.


Artist Website | Facebook |

Watch ABC News tribute to Martha Graham

Part of 2018-2019 Contemporary Dance Series



“One of the seven wonders of the artistic universe.” (The Washington Post)





The EVE Project

Celebrating Women and the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment




Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham

Music by Norman Dello Joio

Premiere: August 13, 1948, Palmer Auditorium, New London, CT.




Choreography by Martha Graham, Reimagined by Virginie Mécène

Original Music by Lehman Engel

Music for reimagined Ekstasis by Ramon Humet

Premiere: May 4, 1933, Guild Theatre, New York City

Ekstasis (reimagined): February 14, 2017, The Joyce Theater, New York City





Choreography by Bulareyaung Pagarlava, Nicolas Paul and Larry Keigwin

Music by Gustav Mahler, John Dowland and Frédéric Chopin

Conceived by Janet Eilber

Premiere: September 11, 2007, Joyce Theater, New York City




Choreography by Martha Graham

Music by Gian Carlo Menotti

Premiere: February 28, 1947, Ziegfeld Theatre, New York City




Choreography by Pontus Lidberg

Music by Irving Fine

Premiere: April 1, 2016, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.








Diversion of Angels, originally titled Wilderness Stair, premiered at the Palmer Auditorium of Connecticut College on August 13, 1948. The title, as well as a set piece designed by Isamu Noguchi, suggestive of desert terrain, was discarded after the first performance, and the dance was reconceived as a plotless ballet. Diversion of Angels is set to a romantic score by Norman Dello Joio and takes its themes from the infinite aspects of love. The Couple in Red embodies romantic love and “the ecstasy of the contraction”; the Couple in White, mature love; and the Couple in Yellow, a flirtatious and adolescent love.


Martha Graham recalled that when she first saw the work of the modern artist Wassily Kandinsky, she was astonished by his use of color, a bold slash of red across a blue background. She determined to make a dance that would express this. Diversion of Angels is that dance, and the Girl in Red, dashing across the stage, is the streak of red paint bisecting the Kandinsky canvas. —Ellen Graff




Ekstasis is thought to be the 37th creation by Graham. In a 1980 interview, Graham explained that the genesis of this dance came from a pelvic thrust gesture that she discovered one day. This led her to explore “a cycle of distortion” that she found deeply meaningful. “Before Ekstasis, I had been using a more static form, trying to find a ritualist working of the body,” she concluded. Virginie Mécène reimagined this version of Ekstasis based on the sparse documentation of this original solo, which included a few photos by Soichi Sunami and Barbara Morgan.



The Lamentation Variations premiered in 2007 to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11. Three choreographers were asked to create a spontaneous choreographic sketch of their reaction to a film of Martha Graham dancing her iconic solo, Lamentation. The artists were required to adhere to the following conditions: 10 hours of rehearsal, public domain music or silence, no longer than four minutes, no sets or props, basic costumes and lighting design. Though it was planned to be performed on only one occasion, the audience reception for the Lamentation Variations was such that it has become an ongoing creative project for the Company. In the years since its premiere, a total of fifteen variations have been commissioned from a great range of today's top artists such as Yvonne Rainer, Lar Lubovitch, Sonya Tayeh, Kyle Abraham, Michelle Dorrance and many more. 




Errand into the Maze premiered in 1947 with a score by Gian Carlo Menotti, set design by Isamu Noguchi and starring Martha Graham. The duet is loosely derived from the myth of Theseus, who journeys into the labyrinth to confront the Minotaur, a creature who is half man and half beast.  Martha Graham retells the tale from the perspective of Ariadne, who descends into the labyrinth to conquer the Minotaur. The current production of Errand into the Maze was created in reaction to the damage done to the sets and costumes by Hurricane Sandy. This version, stripped of the classic production elements, is meant to intensify our focus on the dramatic, physical journey of the choreography itself. 


Using Irving Fine's music as my point of departure, rather than using a concept, I heard structure as well as possible imagery: woodland, moonlight and wandering creatures. I wanted to interact with the music, not just impose choreography on it, so I chose to reorder the movements and add a repeat, turning a linear work into one that is almost cyclical—a structure that I've explored continuously in my compositions. I also often take inspiration and impetus from the dancers, and the Graham dancers have been a generous and inspiring group of collaborators. Woodland was developed in collaboration with these dancers. In the end, as in many of my works, the individual is a counterpoint to the group—somewhat isolated and looking for the means to connect with others, all the while remaining separated on a singular trajectory. —Pontus Lidberg



Martha Graham has had a deep and lasting impact on American art and culture. She single-handedly defined contemporary dance as a uniquely American art form, which the nation has in turn shared with the world. Crossing artistic boundaries, she collaborated with and commissioned work from the leading visual artists, musicians and designers of her day, including sculptor Isamu Noguchi and composers Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti.

Graham’s groundbreaking style grew from her experimentation with the elemental movements of contraction and release. By focusing on the basic activities of the human form, she enlivened the body with raw, electric emotion. The sharp, angular, and direct movements of her technique were a dramatic departure from the predominant style of the time.

Graham influenced generations of choreographers that included Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp, altering the scope of dance. Classical ballet dancers Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov sought her out to broaden their artistry. Artists of all genres were eager to study and work with Graham—she taught actors, including Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, Madonna, Liza Minnelli, Gregory Peck, Tony Randall, Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson and Joanne Woodward to utilize their bodies as expressive instruments.

During her long and illustrious career, Graham created 181 dance compositions. During the Bicentennial, she was granted the United States’ highest civilian honor, The Medal of Freedom. In 1998, TIME magazine named her the “Dancer of the Century.” The first dancer to perform at the White House and to act as a cultural ambassador abroad, she captured the spirit of a nation. “No artist is ahead of his time,” she said. “He is his time. It is just that the others are behind the time.”


The Martha Graham Dance Company has been a world leader in the development of contemporary dance since its founding in 1926. Today, under the direction of Artistic Director Janet Eilber, the Company is embracing a new programming vision that showcases masterpieces by Graham alongside newly commissioned works by contemporary artists. With programs that offer a rich thematic narrative, the Company creates new platforms for contemporary dance and multiple points of access for audiences.


Since its inception, the Company has received international acclaim from audiences in over 50 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The Company has performed at such illustrious venues as the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House and Covent Garden, as well as at the base of the Great Pyramids of Egypt and in the ancient Herod Atticus Theatre on the Acropolis in Athens. In addition, the Company has also produced several award-winning films broadcast on PBS and around the world.


Though Martha Graham herself is the best-known alumna of her company, the Company has provided a training ground for some of modern dance’s most celebrated performers and choreographers. Former members of the Company include Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, Paul Taylor, John Butler and Glen Tetley. Among celebrities who have joined the Company in performance are Mikhail Baryshnikov, Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, Maya Plisetskaya, Tiler Peck, Misty Copeland, Herman Cornejo and Aurelie Dupont.


In recent years, the Company has challenged expectations and experimented with a wide range of offerings beyond its mainstage performances. It has created a series of intimate in-studio events, forged unusual creative partnerships with the likes of SITI Company, Performa, the New Museum, Barney's, and Siracusa Greek Theater Festival (to name a few); created substantial digital offerings with Google Arts and Culture, YouTube, and Cennarium; and created a model for reaching new audiences through social media. The astonishing list of artists who have created works for the Graham dancers in the last decade reads like a catalog of must-see choreographers:


Kyle Abraham, Aszure Barton, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Lucinda Childs, Marie Chouinard, Michelle Dorrance, Nacho Duato, Mats Ek, Andonis Foniadakis, Liz Gerring, Larry Keigwin, Michael Kliën, Pontus Lidberg, Lil Buck, Lar Lubovitch, Josie Moseley, Richard Move, Bulareyaung Pagarlava, Annie-B Parson, Yvonne Rainer, Sonya Tayeh, Doug Varone, Luca Vegetti, Gwen Welliver and Robert Wilson.


The current company dancers hail from around the world and, while grounded in their Graham core training, can also slip into the style of contemporary choreographers like a second skin, bringing technical brilliance and artistic nuance to all they dofrom brand new works to Graham classics and those from early pioneers such as Isadora Duncan, Jane Dudley, Anna Sokolow and Mary Wigman. “Some of the most skilled and powerful dancers you can ever hope to see,” according to The Washington Post last year. “One of the great companies of the world,” says The New York Times, while Los Angeles Times notes, “They seem able to do anything, and to make it look easy as well as poetic.”


Janet Eilber (Artistic Director) has been the Company’s artistic director since 2005. Her direction has focused on creating new forms of audience access to Martha Graham’s masterworks. These initiatives include contextual programming, educational and community partnerships, use of new media, commissions from today’s top choreographers and creative events such as the Lamentation Variations. Earlier in her career, as a principal dancer with the Company, Ms. Eilber worked closely with Martha Graham. She danced many of Graham’s greatest roles, had roles created for her by Graham, and was directed by Graham in most of the major roles of the repertory. She soloed at the White House, was partnered by Rudolf Nureyev, starred in three segments of Dance in America, and has since taught, lectured and directed Graham ballets internationally. Apart from her work with Graham, Ms. Eilber has performed in films, on television, and on Broadway directed by such greats as Agnes deMille and Bob Fosse and has received four Lester Horton Awards for her reconstruction and performance of seminal American modern dance. She has served as Director of Arts Education for the Dana Foundation, guiding the Foundation’s support for Teaching Artist training and contributing regularly to its arts education publications. Ms. Eilber is a Trustee Emeritus of the Interlochen Center for the Arts. She is married to screenwriter/director John Warren, with whom she has two daughters, Madeline and Eva.


About Irvine Barclay Theatre

Since opening its doors in 1990, Irvine Barclay Theatre has emerged as one of California's most imaginative performing arts showcases. A unique collaborative venture among the City of Irvine, the University of California, Irvine, and the private sector, the theatre has a reputation for wide-ranging programming in the fields of contemporary dance, music, and theater arts. Performances take place in the 750-seat "jewel box" theatre which is renowned for its intimate atmosphere and superb acoustics. Visit to learn about our exciting new season!