Τετάρτη, 30 Οκτωβρίου 2013

DRALION- CIRQUE DU SOLEIL (Athens, Greece 29/10)

I am not afraid of clowns, I adore good numbers with clowns, and the "logic" behind a good act is often the admirable work of genius. Fortunately, I was lucky yesterday, because the clowns of the Cirque du Soleil did not disappoint me one bit in "Dralion", the performance they brought to Athens and opened last night in a huge auditorium which was packed with people of all ages.

I think that Trisha Brown, the icon of postmodernism in theatrical dance, the woman who popularized dance, borrowed heavily on circus acts as she tried to fight gravity while inscribing the bodies of her performers (tied and held by ropes) in the ultra-urban environment of New York city. Last night, circus artists, walked and leaped up and down on walls, offering a transverse view of their bodies, helped by a trampoline; they created a "bridge" between site-specific performance to full-blown pop culture Spiderman -like images that left the audience speechless. "La Chambre", the work of the duo Bouvier-Obadia, with the women on the walls (of an imaginary Bluebeard) is another "relative" of the particular act I am describing from yesterday's performance.

I usually do not feel inclined to watch very large-scale spectacles, I find them too commercial, but I must admit that I felt fully engaged with the whole concept of "Dralion", despite its easy starting point, which was the itinerary to different continents, cultures, colours and music. It was a fairy-tale reconciling peoples and ethnic groups, showcasing the popular view that people essentially are different and yet similar, and that the colours of the four elements of Nature permeate all colours of life no matter where one comes from. Art, apart from being provocative, challenging in form and content (and many more), must also be humanitarian, and a mass spectacle like circus is, put successfully all that humanitarian spirit in this easily digestible concept that could be understood and its value acknowledged by an audience of ages from 4 to 104.

And there was much more: acrobats jumping through rings put up high, super agile trapeze artists dancing and hovering over the stage, an ethereal love duet with  the artists holding and manipulating ribbons -and I could not but wonder whether the female part of the audience would gaze the Douglas Fairbanks-like Orientalist fantasy of a male performer with desire, as he flew in the air to catch smoothly his partner...There was design in space done by the manipulation of fabric in the Loie Fuller manner, there was leaping and jumping and singing and dancing and danger and defying gravity constantly and juggling with balls and even a group of "naughty" girls with pig-tails dressed in school uniform-like costumes which reminded of the Japanese gang of assassin teenagers in Tarantino's movie "Kill Bill I"; these girls performed alternating from unison to solos and then to unison again balance acts and juggling and they were superb!

"Dralion", the spectacle of almost 50 performers, was worth every penny plus the short "journey" to the northern suburbs of the city in realtively packed streets, it was good fun, it was quality act with great performers. It helped get our minds off the crisis and reconsider. Especially take a step back, not forget, but reconsider.This is one crucial aspect of art; isn't it?

Σάββατο, 26 Οκτωβρίου 2013

Περί Ληξιαρχείων...

Έγραφα εδώ και τουλάχιστον μια τετραετία στο μπλογκ μου αυτό, πόσο προβληματική είναι η συμπεριφορά και η κατάσταση στον Δήμο Αθηναίων και στο Ληξιαρχείο. Και μου κάνει μεγάλη εντύπωση που τώρα αντελήφθησαν το πρόβλημα. Αγανακτώ δε έτι περισσότερο που βλέπω ότι υπήρξαν περιπτώσεις εξυπηρέτησης (...) όπως αυτή με τους Ρομά που δήλωσαν σε μια ημέρα εφτά παιδιά. Όχι ότι με εκπλήσσει με όσα είχα δει, αλλά με θυμώνει διότι υπέστημεν ρατσισμό οι αυτόχθονες πληθυσμοί άνευ λόγου και αιτίας, ενώ η κάμηλος διήλθεν με μεγάλη άνεση την τρύπα της βελόνας. Ο ρατσισμός, ο σαδισμός, η αβελτηρία, τα λάθη, η αδιαφορία, η άγνοια βασιλεύουν. Και έχω να πω, αν δεν έχει αλλάξει τώρα με τις κινητικότητες, θερμά συγχαρητήρια στον διευθυντή των υπηρεσιών του Δήμου Αθηναίων που κάνει τη δουλειά των άχρηστων υπαλλήλων του. Μόνος του διεκπεραιώνει τις περιπτώσεις που δεν έχουν απάντηση, όχι λόγω πολυπλοκότητας, αλλά άγνοιας κλπ., κλπ., μην τα ξαναλέω. Ουρά στο γραφείο του και ο άνθρωπος με υπομονή και ευγένεια επιλύει τα προβλήματα. Αίσχος!!!
Θυμάμαι να τρέμει κόσμος στην ουρά, "ωχ! πάλι σ' αυτόν; άντε τι με περιμένει, θα ξανάρθω σίγουρα..." Στην αρχή δεν καταλάβαινα, μετά έμαθα κι εγώ. Μέχρι φωτοτυπία μόνη μου έβγαλα για πιο γρήγορα τις παλιότερες καλές μέρες. Σιχτίρ τα ξαναθυμήθηκα, και είναι εξόχως τραυματικά. Σιχτίρ για κράτος. Τόσο χάλια, που όταν στο προνήπιο ζήτησαν πιστοποιητικό απ' το Δήμο, είπα δεν πάω, θα σας φέρω ό,τι έχω, και με κοίταζαν. Λέω, δεν το ξαναπερνάω, ούτε γαμοσταβρίδια, ούτε χαμόγελο σατανικό πίσω απ' το γκισέ, "έβρισες κιόλας, θα ξανάρθεις οπωσδήποτε εσύ." (γκνια γκνια γκνια @^*σιχτίρ#*^@γμτ!!!)

Τετάρτη, 23 Οκτωβρίου 2013


Εδώ το καλό Νάσοναλ Τζεογκράφικ! Διαλιέχτεεε! Σήμερις έχουμε έργο για τα κουνούπια.
Τα κουνούπια φίλτατοι χωρίζονται σε διάφορα είδη:
1. counoupous klapsiaricous tabletensis: αυτό που άμα βάνεις την ταμπλέτα, συνεχίζει να πετάει από πάνω σου κλαίγοντας που δεν το άφηκες να σε πιεί το αίμα. Στο τέλος βαριέται και κοιμάται απά στον τοίχο, οπότε και μπορείς να το κάνεις χαλκομανία με το διαφημιστικό ΙΚΕΑ.
2. counoupous draculensis-draculensis μοβόρικο και επίμονο, κάνει γιουρούσια με πολεμικές κραυγές "Τζερόνιμο", "Αέρα", "Ωωωωααααα" και "Μπζ". Αν δει ότι κρύβεσαι κάτω απ' τις κουβέρτες, γίνεται τούρκος και στήνει καραούλι μέχρι να βγεις. Ποταπό και τρισάθλιο, τσιμπάει ό,τι εξέχει, συνήθως το μικρό δάχτυλο που κρατάει την κουβέρτα, και γίνεται "τούμπανο".
3. counoupous pantherus είναι το κουνούπι που δαγκώνει σάρκες, και που το καταλαβαίνεις απ' το θόρυβο των φτερών και βεβαίως απ' το βάρον άμα κάτσει πάνω σου. Δεν το πετυχαίνεις εύκολα, οπότε καλύτερα άσε το περιοδικό, αλλιώς θα γελάνε όλοι ότι δέρνεσαι μόνος σου. Οι δαγκωνιές του φέρνουν τσούξιμο και πόνο ενώ αυτό γελάει σατανικά μουαχαμπζ μουαχαχαχαμπζ μουαχαχαχαχαμπζ. (Στο λαιμό να του κάτσει.)
4. counoupous discreetensis τσιμπάει λίγο από δω, λίγο από κει, δεν ξέρει τι θέλει, και συνήθως προτιμάει πολλαπλά μικρά τσιμπήματα σε μέρη που σε κάνουν να βλαστημάς αγαπητέ αναγνώστη, όπως καλά γνωρίζεις, μην κάνεις τον ανήξερο: ανάμεσα στα δάχτυλα του ποδιού, στην πατούσα, στο εσωτερικό της παλάμης, στη φάλαγγα ακριβώς των δακτύλων ώστε να μην κλείνει το χέρι σου μετά και επίσης να πρέπει να σου κόψουνε τα δάχτυλα για να βγουν τα δάχτυλίδια (ώστε να πάρεις το περιοδικό και να κοπανάς το κουνούπη στα σανίδια.)
5. counoupous trypanensis vrakozonus είναι ο κούνουπας που η προβοσκίδα του περνάει το τζην το παντελόνι, και το βρακί μαζί με λάστιχα, φακαρόλες και ζώνες. Βάνει ούπα και ρουφάει το αίμα σου με το μπουρί που 'χει στη μούρη, και μετά λες "γιατί με τρώει ο βρακής;" και κοιτάς ακριβώς στη ραφή παντελονιού και βρακέος -γιατί ο κουνούπης το αλφάδιασε το δάγκωμα- κι έχεις σπυρί ολόδικό σου που θα σε τρώει καμιά δεκαριά μέρες, καθότι είναι το μέρον άβολο, και ξεχνιέσαι και το ξύνεις ασυναισθήτως (αλλά δακρύζεις κατευθείαν και γίνεσαι συναισθήτως, θυμάσαι και αρχίζεις τα γαμοσταβρίδια.)

Πέμπτη, 10 Οκτωβρίου 2013

Martha Graham and the Greek myths: a complicated relationship

Martha Graham based some of her dances on the Greek myths. Identify the themes that she abstracted from the myths and discuss her treatment of them in the light of 20th century psychoanalytic thought.


Must I fear my mother’s marriage bed?
This wedlock with Thy mother fear not thou.
How oft it chances that in dreams
A man has wed his mother!
He who least regards such brainsick fantasies
Live most at ease.

This extract from Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, is chosen in order to introduce us to the main subject, the treatment of the Greek myths as it has been realized by an eminent personality of the world of dance, the American choreographer Martha Graham.
Why a reference to this particular myth? Because it is very closely connected to the psychoanalytic conception of the psychosexual development of man. Martha Graham’s viewpoint agrees with the psychoanalytic one, although the verbal way of expressing it is not exactly the same.
She considers the myths images of the human experience, icons where universal human feelings are reflected; feelings like jealousy, fear, anxiety, desire, ambivalence, guilt, anger, love, sorrow. The psychoanalytic jargon, it is true, uses a more specific vocabulary. So, we have an explicit conception  according to which the myth is considered capable of expressing inner conflicts in a symbolic form. The Freudian psychoanalysts are interested to discover what kind of unconscious content is hidden behind the symbolic form of myth.
Before we begin the exploration of Martha Graham’s treatment, it would be useful to clarify a few concepts which are useful later. It would be better to begin with the definition of the “Unconscious”. According to the Freudian conception, the mental (psychic is also called) apparatus consists of three elements: the id, the ego and the superego.
The Id, is considered as our “darkest” part. It is unconscious, consisting of primal drives, (drive is an inner energetic impulse and directs the organism to a special aim. Drives should not be confused with instincts which have a biological source) and is submitted to the pleasure principle only. The Id, does not know time or rational relations.
The Ego –which is also unconscious up to a certain point- develops from the contact of the psychic apparatus with reality. Here, reigns the principle of reality. The resolution of the conflicts with reality or between desires that fight against each other, belongs to the Ego.
Superego, finally, is a modification of the Ego, and is created by the internalization of the suppressive forces that have appeared in the life of the individual and, additionally, from the assimulation of the child to the image of the idealized parents.
After these necessary classifications are made, we can proceed to the examination of the choreographic works of Martha Graham that were inspired by the Greek myths.
These works in chronological order, are as following: Cave of the Heart, Night Journey, Clytemnestra, Phaedra, Circe and Cortege of Eagles.
The central figure in the Cave of the Heart is Medea, the “damned” queen, the witch, the tragically abandoned woman. Medea, after her husband Jason deserted her for a younger woman (who could eventually help him to become a king), decides to take revenge upon him, by killing her rival and her children. Martha Graham is not interested in the infanticide; she focuses on Medea’s mad passion for revenge. Her choreography is very strong and dramatic. She focuses on the myth passionately and her dance is emotionally charged. Seeing the piece, it seems that in this particular work, Graham is found under the influence of both “magic” and the psychoanalytic thought. Medea’s dance is full of serpent-like movements. (The first title actually was “Serpent heart”.) Graham associates her with a snake, for two reasons: first, because she wants to remind us of the magic powers that had helped to bewitch the serpent that guarded the golden fleece, so that she and Jason could take it (they actually did), to under;ine Jason’s ingratitude and warn that the serpent has woken up. Second, because Medea has ceased to act in a human way.
Why did she choose the snake? Why not another animal? Because on top of what has just been mentioned, it is a strong memory to humanity (why not to Graham with the strict Presbyterian upbringing), that the serpent is a cunning, sinuous creature. Furthermore it seems plausible that unconsciously she must have found many similarities between Medea’s and Eve’s attitude. Only that in Medea’s case the step towards knowledge has been made quite consciously and Jason was an accomplice. That is why Medea punished him so severely; he left her alone to bear the burden of their common sins. For Graham the centre of her choreographic inspiration is the fury of Medea. As she often used to say, “movement does not lie”, and it is worth taking her own opinion in regard to the interpretation of her work.
In this first approach of hers to a mythic theme, she relies a lot on symbolic representations of  “iconic” feelings, and this is probably in accordance to her interest in Carl G. Jung’s psychoanalytic theory of the archetypes. Nonetheless, she shows that Medea has surrendered to the sweeping omnipotence of her unconscious. It seems primary among her intentions to create a primitive, powerful dance than to explore the deeper psychological context of the heroine. She still sees the “ritual” where she should see the “significance”, which in turn would mean that she had not remained within the context of the mythical plot. Obviously Ruth St Denis has a lasting impression on her, despite ideological and stylistic modifications that Graham initiated in her own work and technique.
Night Journey is one of Graham’s more characteristic works. It is based on the myth of Oedipus, who killed his father and married his mother. When Oedipus learns the truth he blinds himself with his own hands and his mother hangs herself. The myth as adapted by Graham, introduces Jocasta as protagonist and it is her feelings that she explores. Action begins at the point where Jocasta, after she has learned that she had wed her son and given birth to his children, is going to punish herself. Noguchi’s scenery is full of symbols that reveal the double nature of the relationship between Oedipus and Jocasta, and predict the tragic end: the rope that ties them together –umbilical cord and symbol of their matrimonial union and to the incestuous marriage, which will turn eventually to a means of punishment of the queen. The bed; a weird construction made as if to remind to a spectator, of human bones –the feminine pelvis perhaps or death.
In this particular work, Martha Graham becomes “psychoanalytic”. Let us see how: as mentioned before, night Journey starts after the truth is revealed. Jocasta, before hanging herself, will bring back to her memory all the events that took place before. This way, she will make a very painful “night journey”/discovery. In the end of it, she will be able to face the truth and undertake her responsibilities. In talking about psychoanalysis, the word “reality” is possibly more suitable than the word “truth” tha Graham uses to show the qualities of movement or the point in which her heroine arrives at. What else though is the basic concept of the psychoanalytic process than a long journey to the long past in order to come to terms with ourselves and realize our position in the world, after we have dealt with our fears, anxiety or guilt.
Martha Graham places the source of our inner conflicts in the past, like psychoanalysis does. She furthermore suggests through Jocasta’s paradigm –that we return back there- no matter how painful it might be- to gain relief. It is also noticeable that in spite of the tragic end of the myth, she seems quite optimistic, believing that the happy moment of the resolution of the inner conflicts and serenity will eventually come, and moreover, quickly and in the form of a full blown revelation.
It does not seem to be the same  when talking from the psychoanalytic point of view. There is always a chance for an individual analysis to remain unfinished and consequently, the conflicts to remain unresolved. However, Night Journey shows that Martha Graham has already moved away from the irresistible “magic” of a simple representation of a myth. It is also worth mentioning that in Night Journey he chorus, which originally in the tragedy consisted of Theban oldmen, here consists of six young girls, the “Daughters of the Noght” as they are named, participants to the never ending dark of the unconscious sign. The term “never-ending” is acutely chosen, though not quite realistic, it shows dramatically the quality and dimension of the “other place” as Freud himself named the unconscious.
The inner journey and the introspection continue with another work, which is entitled Errand into the Maze. It is inspired by the duel between the Athenian hero Thesaeus and Minotaur, a monster. (The myth also says that Minotaur was born after the Cretan princess Pasiphae had mated with a bull.) In this choreographic synthesis it is not Thesaeus, but a female figure that will fight the monster. The Minotaur for Graham, is a symbolic representation of human fears. Minotaur lent his monstrous appearance to help men externalize their search and their archaic fear of their psychic torment. As Martha Graham has always liked to do, she has, here too, created an apparent symbolism for the inner itinerary of the female protagonist. It is symbolized by the entanglement of a rope. The female figure will have to tie and tangle few times the rope of her thoughts and feelings, before she resolves her conflicts. The minotaur’s struggle is ours. He changes faces according to the personality and the structure of the psychic apparatus of each one of us. Consequently, the heroine must undertake the “errand” for her own sake.
The choreography makes her dance with the Minotaur. It is evident, naturally, that we cannot dance with someone without looking at him. So, their dance, no matter how aggressive it is, will make her face the monster, because no matter how fearful it may look, she has to deal with it as it is. At this point, we shall not resist temptation to substitute those inner fears with the resistances of the subject on the analytic couch. These resistances are the major obstacle during the analytic process, since the individual often prefers to remain in his/her inexplicable and “magic” symptomatology.
Clytemnestra is a monumental work of Freudian inspiration, and is part of another “family drama”. While her husband Agamemnon was at the Trojan war, Aegisthus, his cousin became her lover. When he returned together with Cassandra, a prey of the war, she and her lover murdered him. Then, her young son Orestes, undertook the act of revenge and he killed his mother.
The choreographic plot begins soon afterward Clytemnestra has descended to Hades. Hades symbolizes both the dark in her soul and the dark place of the dead. In Hades, she cannot rest in peace, because sha has not accepted the nature of her deeds. Hades, whom she hates very much, because he keeps her within the darkness of death as a jailor, will address the question that will eventually succeed in turning her to introspection: “Why you dishonored among the dead?” To answer this question, she has to start her way backward. She will remember her rage and accusations to Agamemnon for killing their daughter, her rivalry with Cassandra, her hate for Helen, her sister, who was the cause of the war. In other words, she will meet with sibling rivalry and oedipal conflicts, and she will realize her hostility and fury or real pain and sorrow.
Everything exists in this journey as in a psychoanalytic process. Each one might meet with feelings like these in his/her life; the importance seems to be, to dare to admit their existence, face them and try to deal with them. Martha Graham with a very accurate and keen observation, is able to understand very subtle matters. This time, the message in this work, includes self-forgiveness and acceptance. The conflicts are tragic, but human beings need not be tremendously severe; it is very important to know where to accept the idea of self-forgiveness. Psychoanalysis would say the same maybe with slightly different words. It may be added that the relation between Hades and Clytemnestra reminds us of the one between the analyst and the patient; meaning the transference, which is absolutely necessary, to establish, since the whole analytic process is based on it. (Maybe another clarification should be added here: transference is the projection on the analyst, of personalities who were involved with the very early years of the child –now the individual under analysis- usually a mother or a father.)
Introspection ahs become somewhat the basic theme of Graham’s choreographic inspiration. In 1962, se chose one more tragic female figure to present on stage: Phaedra. Phaedra was Aphrodite’s victim, says the myth; a victim of her own libidinous drives we would rather say. She fell in love with Hippolitus, her own stepson. Hippolytus refused her love. In consequence her revenge was terrible: she accused him to her husband Thesaeus, saying that he had made improper advances to her. This way she rose Thesaeus’ fury against his son, condemning the latter to death.
Martha Graham is interested in Phaedra’s sexual frustration and insatiable passion which devours her. She always believed that sexual frustration is a major driving power in all activities of life. To a certain point it is true. But she does not deepen her understanding as to what kind of psychic phenomenon this frustration suggests. She has already understood enough of the psychic processes by intuition and despite the fact that at times her work seems to have remained under a certain influence of a religious background.
It can be argued that impulse is essential for an artist to create. It seems that in  spite the weakness of certain parts of her dances, she has worked quite successfully from the psychological point of view. Is it essential to prove or realize that Phaedra is still a child seeking for her childhood’s omnipotence? Is it really necessary to remind the viewer that according to psychoanalysis, in our relations to the present we sometimes use criteria to judge or we attribute to people qualities directly projected from our past relations with them?
Phaedra would not have been able to take any frustration in her adult life (no human being could) if she had not overcome her frustration of her early oral stage. It seems that Graham did not really care for so many details, she actually managed to give a strong kinetic experience and succeeded in making us relive our past watching Phaedra’s reactions on the stage. As for the horrible consequences, the lie to Thesaeus and the tragic end of Hippolytus, we know that psychic conflicts are not one dimensional: they include elements, traces, from every stage a man is due to pass through; incestuous fantasies, oedipal conflicts, regression to previous stages of development and from psychoanalytic point of view it would take long to explain the situation, while Graham instinctively selected what was needed to show it vividly.
Circe is inspired by the well known adventure of Ulysses and his companions who arrive at her island while on their way back to their homeland, Ithaca. We could suppose that his companions represent, in a symbolic form, the different and sometimes contradictory elements of human nature. Circe would bewitch all of his companions, while Ulysses forced her to free them all from her spells. Once more the viewer comes across the eternal theme of the catastrophic consequences an unresolved inner conflict might have on an individual’s life. Circe may be anything that corresponds to a test of our maturity as we pass through different developmental stages: test of greediness, of the capacity to overcome incestuous fantasies and invest in other love objects et.c.
In this myth with no tragic end, the temptation is food. The weak part of the human nature will be swept away by the pleasure principle. The Id, will endeavour the weak ego and human being will show its regression at an early  developmental stage. Human beings are easily carried away by their bestial part. This is an aspect very susceptible to severe and regressive messages for all human kind. Not for Martha Graham who seems to be able to understand with “psychological intuition” human nature’s faults and shows Ulysses as an individual who will fight to understand himself and who finally chooses to be human, chooses civilization and reason.
In her last work with the Greek myths, Graham was quite aged. Critics say that she interpreted more than she danced, and is quite logical for a person at the age of 74. Her work is titled Cortege of Eagles. The major character is a woman, Hecuba, the queen of the once rich and happy troy that is now ruined and deserted.
Hecuba is deserted too. The war took everything she had: people, city, family. Nothing has been left to her except for her youngest son, whom she gave to the king of Thrace, Polymestor, to keep him safe. However, the king killed the boy and she took vengeance upon him, by blinding Polymestor with her own hands. One could say that there is no evident psychoanalytic material here. Hecuba blinds the king, but in her total disaster few would bother to blame her. She is to be pitied. Graham sees Hecuba as a victim of the violence of war. War desolates everything, she is desolate of her feelings too. A perfectly humanitarian message from Graham in accordance to Euripides’ play. One might also see a certain identification here, between the choreographer and Hecuba. Graham at the time she created this work, was about to quit dancing and rather elderly. Like Hecuba, she has already been deprived herself of her strength, of her dancing ability. She has already lost her youth. This role is like a bitter cry…Which Graham may or may not fully realize. One can only speculate why she chose to depict at that age, this particular character. She might had been aware of the fact that her choice might have other connotations than to solely present the hardships of a female queen fallen from “grace”. It is also worth noting that war may have represented death or time for Graham. And she curses him.
If the hypothesis that the choreographer identified with the character she depicted in more than one ways, it could be added that Hecuba, the tragic queen of Troy recounts her sorrows and also remembers that Helen, the cause of the war was still alive. It is true that for many people to see the younger generation  thrive and enjoy its youth causes melancholy if not pain, especially if one ages and sees friends and relatives die, thus becoming lonelier while young people enjoy their lives; while young dancers can still perform miracles on stage, as is the case with different generations of artists. Suffice to recall one film that may corroborate this hypothesis, the black-and-white “All about Eve” with Bette Davis and a sparkling ultra young Marylin Monroe, a budding actress at the time the film was made. Therefore, probably Cortege of Eagles is one of the most genuine creations of Martha Graham…

Before closing this brief study of only a few works of one of the most influential and perceptive innovators of dance, it should be noted that due to the nature of the study it has not been possible to explore aspects of her works like the role of female characters or analyse any possible signification of symbols like the rope or try to explain the meaning of the “inevitable” as it is sometimes presented in her works.
What is obvious, is that Martha Graham’s choreographic work, though in some of its parts might now look old-fashioned include a very sensitive look into human nature, and a rare comprehension of complicated psychic phenomena. It also shows a string and positive aspect as far as it concerns the resolution of inner conflicts.
Quite optimistic or simplistic as it may sometimes be, it still is a very sharp view-point and it might be said that few artists –especially in dance- have been able to overcome their one-dimensional “lyrical” attitude towards the elements of the psychic processes, and deepen their observation to that point, as to be able to give them a visual representation.



1893        Birth of M.G., in Allegheny, USA
1908        Move to California. (A decisive point for M.G.)
1911        Sees Ruth St Denis for the first time
1913    Enters the Gumnock School
1916    Enters the Denishawn School
Summer 1916 first public appearance with “A Dance Pageant of Egypt, greece, Italy”
1923        Leaves Denishawn to find her own kinetic vocabulary
1926        Gives her first independent dance recital “Tanagra Solo”
1929        “Heretic” (first important group work)
1931   “Primitive mysteries” (It refers to one her favourite themes, the American and Amerindian traditions).
1935        “Frontier” (solo)
1938          “American Document”
1939          “Every soul is a circus”  (a funny piece)
1940          “Letter to the world” (inspired by Emily Dickinson)
“El penitente”
1941          Marriage to Erick Hawkins
1943      “Salem Shove”, “Deaths and Entrances”
1944     “Appalachian Spring”, “Herodiade”
1946      “Dark Meadow” (is a bridge between earlier works and her movement towards themes taken from Greek mythology, history and the Old Testament)
1946     “Cave of the Heart”
1946  (revised 1947) “Night Journey”
1947     “Errand into the Maze”
1948     “Diversion of Angels” (lyrical piece with no plot)
1950     “Judith”
1955     “Seraphic Dialogues”
1958     “Clytemnestra”
1960      “Acrobats of Gods”
1962      “Phaedra”
1963     “Circe”
1967     “Cortege of Eagles” , “Dancing ground”
1968     “The plain of prayer”
1975     “Lucifer” (choreographed for Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn)
1977     “The Scarlet Letter”


Au, S.                                  Ballet and Modern Dance
Bettelheim, B.                     The uses of enchantment
Copeland, R. & Cohen, M. What is dance?
Crauss, R.                             History of Dance
Donagh, Mc D.                     Martha Graham
Freud, S.                                Introduction to psychoanalysis
Highwater, J.                         Rituals of experience
Kranakis, M.                         Reading Freud
Lagache, D.                           La psychanalyse
Reynolds, N. & Reimer, S.   Martha Graham: 16 dances in photos
Robertson, A. & Hutera, D.  The Dance Handbook 
Steeh, J.                                  History of ballet and modern dance
Stodelle, E.                             Deep Song, The Dance story of Martha Graham

Programma cultural de la XIX Olimpiada-Martha Graham and Dance Company
The Open University               Freud and psychoanalysis

DVD/videos of works of Martha Graham, i.e. “Dance in America”

 © Hassiotis, 1990

Τρίτη, 8 Οκτωβρίου 2013

On (certain) women artists

Never underestimate the revenge of the housewife.
Giving too much is not natural.
Never underestimate the violence of the boudoir.
Throughout my career as a critic, I got tired of watching petty, sink passions, hidden violence and worth-null performances. Done by women. For a feminist, this hurts. A lot.
The work of art could not but be the portrait of the "artist".
I could smell their fear, their repulsion to other women. Sickening. And in secret. Always.

Τετάρτη, 2 Οκτωβρίου 2013


[...] I have chosen Egon Schiele’s drawing, titled Standing Nude Girl, which he made in 1910. Egon Schiele admired “19th c. pornographer Felicien Rops” (Whitford, F., 1981, p. 88), and he explored notions of eroticism and sexual behavior himself in his work. His art was quite shocking for early 20th c. Vienna, and it is easy to understand this, especially if we take into consideration the fact that the very representation of, for example, the act of masturbating, even today, might not be condemned, but it would be examined in the context of its presentation, of the total of the artist’s works, the aim of the artist and so on. Which means that a provocative work of art, even today may be put under close scrutiny before it is considered “art”, and it is certain that many voices would readily support the “mores of society” instead of the right of the artist to explore his artistic possibilities and the “dark side of his unconscious”. 

Schiele’s Standing Nude Girl is standing facing the viewer, as she probably did at the studio, facing the artist while he was drawing her. The figure of the girl is dominating the space as she stands alone right at the centre of the rectangular material on which she is immortalized. The composition, seems deceptively harmonious as she stands right in the centre, leaving a small space over her tilting head, as well as to her sides, while the down part of the paper has no margin left, with the legs of the girl being drawn almost up to the knee. Thus, on the one hand she acquires an earthly quality and on the other hand the viewer is left with a feeling that he/she would like to see more, to see the whole of the beautiful girl. 

She dominates the space around her as if she is magnified; however, the harmony mentioned above is deceptive because if we look more carefully, we see that she her body is “twisted”, in a snake-like manner. Her left hip is tilted sideways thus letting the viewer get a glimpse of her buttocks; her upper body seems artificially erect, flat and turned en face, especially in relation to the body waist down, which makes us think that either Schiele wanted to underline the immaturity of the very young girl (flat chest, awkward posing), or that he aimed at creating an icon of the idea of the awakening of the eroticism of a young girl, through the accentuated hip posture and the rather big buttocks, which are an allusion to the vulgar side of exhibiting a young girl’s body. This possibly also carries another connotation on the part of Schiele: as it is mentioned by Whitford, he used to hire working class girls for models, and by the accentuated buttocks, he may be alluding to the stereotype about the sexual vulgarity of the working class. Which in turn make him victim to bourgeois morality or makes the drawing a criticism of it. 

The right arm of the girl is unfinished; it seems to be touching an object, because of its position, but also because her head rests on it. The arm, except for the hand, vanishes into the colour of the background: this may be a useful hint on innovations made by the artist (i.e. the unfinished body), and/or information on the subject-matter, a hint to further consider the torso as important, and concentrate on it. Furthermore, it is so well done, that one thinks that the whole body, arm included, is drawn and present. The background and the body of the girl share similar tones of beige, greyish, and pinkish, while around her body, especially on the left hand side, her contour is further highlighted by a line of white colour. It is a distorted image of a girl with big hands, again a possible exaggeration of characteristics owed to her class (…) in contrast to the young and thin body. The girl seems to come out of this pale background, paler than her body, which looks like a cloud; she comes out, not yet transformed into a fully grown woman, although the erogenous zones and organs are fully accentuated with the use of red colour. 

Her nipples, her mouth, her genitals are coloured red. Her look is calm, consenting, surprised at the power of her nudity, but still not quite knowing the full meaning of pleasure. This is a drawing, a work about adolescent female sexuality, the female awakening. Given the overall quality of the treatment of the subject-matter, one might say that Schiele makes also a  comment about the female sexuality as progressively becoming imposing and wild, able to be dealt with in young girls, who are not fully aware of their “domineering” possibilities. He seems to believe in femmes-fatales. This is the story of the Chryssalis turning into a butterfly, as seen by an artist of early 20th c. Schiele transgressed various rules and norms of his time, but here innuendos may be found which are not at all flattering for women, and show him as an individual creating within certain stereotypes of his era as well as his personal ghosts. Today, “Lolita” drawings, would create arise suspicion, as the issue of molesting children and pedophilia are more openly discussed and confronted, while there is less tolerance, even in the artistic context. The ambiguous paintings of Balthus, or the frightening gardens of the Chapman brothers, are both wonderful to watch as well as repulsive to think of them in real life.