The Martha Graham Dance Company has a long history of employing technology to catalyze creativity, enhance performances and connect with audiences. For its coming digital season, set to begin on Sept. 23, this modern dance troupe will draw heavily on its founder’s 20th-century experiments with film while also making use of newer tools like Zoom.
Janet Eilber, the company’s artistic director, said in an interview that the programming for the fall and winter has been devised to link thematically the company’s online offerings and give the public multiple ways to access and interact with them. “In the last five months of Covid we’ve been trying all sorts of things and making all sorts of discoveries about our audience,” she explained. “The focus of our 95th season is to better coordinate everything we’ve been doing.”
The company’s “Martha Matinee” series, which began in April, will continue into 2021, now monthly, with Ms. Eilber hosting screenings of Graham classics on film and video. Some of the coming highlights include the earliest known clips of Graham performing for the camera; Nathan Kroll’s 1961 film of “Night Journey,” a ballet Graham made in 1947; and footage from the early 1940s of Graham, Erick Hawkins and Merce Cunningham performing “Punch and the Judy.”
Another continuing series, “GrahamDeconstructed,” will illuminate the artistic and historical background of the work or a period of Graham’s life featured in a “Matinee” episode. To cap each month, Eilber and other Graham experts will convene to reflect on the theme that connects the two programs and field questions from viewers.
The public will also have the opportunity to get to know the company’s dancers through periodic virtual gatherings and short videos created by the performers at home.
The schedule for the winter portion of the season has been left purposefully open ended. Ms. Eilber said the goal is to start rehearsing solos and duets in October with the aim of beginning to share them online in December. “We think we’re going to be able to begin incorporating ‘the live’ at about that point in our season.” Conditions permitting, a livestreamed rehearsal of “Satyric Festival Song” from 1932 will be broadcast from the Graham Studio on Dec. 8. The hope is that more livestreamed dance will follow in 2021.
For more information, visit marthagraham.org.