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Dance Review: Being Martha Graham

Published on Jun 28, 2014 8:51 AM

The late modern dance pioneer, Martha Graham, can be described as a pocket rocket. Her diminutive frame housed a superlative personality, one that toed the fine line between genius and decadence, supremity and self-parody. American performing artist Richard Move, in his loving impersonation of Graham, treads this same line with respectful glee, in Friday's performance at the Asian Civilisations Museum.

The dramatic makeup, mountainous bun, long robes and overstated theatricality that are Graham’s signature make for ideal drag material, especially when inhabited by a tall man such as Move. Yet, the conviction with which he plays the legendary figure draws a captivated silence.

With large eyes and dark hair, Graham was known to look Asian and she held a fascination for Asia and its culture. Thus for Move to be cavorting amidst relics and statues from the region in the Museum as though Graham would have hoped to, is deeply poignant. Contracting his spine in reverence to statues of Buddha, Move lends three iconic solos from Graham’s famed Greek period an attitude of pious devotion.

Shifting between two sections of a gallery, Move repeatedly stabs the ground as Clytemnestra killing her husband and strangles himself with a golden noose in a deep backbend as Jocasta in Graham’s Oedipus essay. The audience is curiously pressed up against the glass in a corridor, watching as he flits past. The elusive nature of the performance cleverly mirrors the mystery of the Greek goddesses it depicts, while serving as a reminder of the egomaniacal diva, Graham herself.

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Where: Asian Civilisations Museum
When: Sat 28 June, 8pm
Admission: $45 for The O.P.E.N. Pass from Sistic