Martha Graham resurrected

Martha Graham resurrected
Richard Move will recreate Martha Graham's imposing appearance, complete with the hair piled regally atop the head and blood-red lipstick.

Over the telephone from New York City, American dancer Richard Move's bright tenor sounds nothing like the husky gravel of his glamorous alter ego - Martha Graham, the mother of contemporary dance.

But on stage, the chameleonic artist and choreographer slips almost effortlessly into her shoes: the imposing presence, the hair piled regally atop the head and the bright, blood-red lipstick.

Graham, who died in 1991, was under 1.6m in height, and Move stands at over 1.9m.

But he says that "everyone talks about how she had the strength of 10 men". Perhaps that is why he has been so successful in performing her - her presence has finally found a body large enough to encompass her dynamism.

Move will be bringing his reincarnations of Graham here for the Singapore International Festival of Arts, as well as its pre-festival programme, The O.P.E.N.

Later this month, he will perform four of her solos at the Asian Civilisations Museum - Night Journey, Clytemnestra, Lamentation and Episodes, Part 1.

For the festival itself in August, he will recreate Graham's 1963 interview with dance critic Walter Terry, who will be played by actress Lisa Kron, also in drag.

Move says of this gender reversal: "I think it draws people in as a sort of curiosity and oddity at first. And then I think adding humour and irony draws people in even deeper, and it's like a magnifying glass into her life."

He hopes this focus on gender will heighten their performances for the audience and also cites how theatre in the past relied on men to play all the roles, including the theatre of Shakespeare and ancient Greece.

His performances as Graham have been praised by many publications. The New York Times said of The 1963 Interview that "some of her greatest works and roles... are all given vivid life in her declamatory mix of lofty sentiment and earthy realism", adding: "The force of her conviction is utterly compelling".

Move, who declined to give his age ("A lady never tells her age," he says coyly), has been resurrecting Graham regularly for almost two decades.

He was first enchanted by Graham during movement classes at a performing arts high school. He says: "I had never seen anything so erotic and visceral and violent and at the same time, extraordinarily beautiful".

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