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Clark Art Institute and Jacob’s Pillow present Free Special Performance by Martha Graham Dance Company

August 15, 2019 05:15 am

August 18 presentation includes classic repertoire and new work honoring women’s suffrage

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Clark Art Institute hosts a special pop-up performance by the acclaimed Martha Graham Dance Company on its Williamstown campus on August 18 from 1–3 p.m. The free event is co-hosted in a cultural collaboration with Jacobs Pillow.

The day’s program includes some of Martha Graham’s most revered and iconic choreography, along with a creative project titled The 19 Poses. Dancers from the company will perform in dialogue with the Clark’s idyllic landscape and galleries in various locations in and around the Clark’s reflecting pool.

Three works choreographed by company founder Martha Graham highlight the afternoon:

Diversion of Angels (1948) was once described by Graham as representing three aspects of love – a couple in red embodies romantic love and “the ecstasy of the contraction;” a couple in white represents mature love; and a couple in yellow symbolizes a flirtatious and adolescent love. Graham recalled that when she first saw the work of 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 character of the Girl in Red, dashing across the stage, is the streak of red paint bisecting the Kandinsky canvas.

Lamentation (1930) is performed almost entirely from a seated position, with the dancer encased in a tube of purple jersey. The diagonals and tensions formed by the dancer’s body struggling within the material create a moving sculpture, a portrait that presents the very essence of grief. The figure in this dance is neither human nor animal, neither male nor female: it is grief itself.

Ekstasis (1933) is thought to be the thirty-seventh creation by Graham. In a 1980 interview, she once explained that the genesis of this dance came from a thrusting gesture that led her to explore “a cycle of distortion” that she found deeply meaningful. Virginie Mécène reimagined this version of Ekstasis in 2017 based on sparse documentation of the original solo.

Rounding out their presentation at the Clark, members of the Company will present The 19 Poses (2019), a structured improvisation arranged by Artistic Director Janet Eilber and the dancers. The 19 Poses for the 19th Amendment project was created in celebration of the upcoming 2020 centenary of the adoption of the nineteenth amendment granting American women the right to vote.

Beginning at 11 a.m., members of the Company will assist Clark visitors in learning the 19 Poses on the Fernández Terrace of the Clark Center. Visitors will have the opportunity to photograph themselves in the poses, post them on social media, and use them creatively as a memento.

Visitors are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket to provide outdoor seating. In the event of inclement weather, the performance will move indoors.

Imbued with the legacy of modern dance pioneer Martha Graham, the acclaimed American company is appearing at the Clark as part of a week-long engagement at Jacob’s Pillow at which they will present The EVE Project, in celebration of female power and the upcoming suffrage centennial. This two-year project presents a comprehensive range of Graham’s classics alongside new commissions by some of today’s leading female voices, providing entree into today’s most pressing conversations.


Legendary choreographer Martha Graham had a deep and lasting impact on American art and culture. She single-handedly defined contemporary dance as a uniquely American art form and crossed artistic boundaries to collaborate with and commissioned work from the leading visual artists, musicians, and designers of her day. Graham and her Company expanded contemporary dance’s vocabulary of movement, forever altering the scope of the art form by rooting works in contemporary social, political, psychological, and sexual contexts, deepening their impact and resonance. Always a fertile ground for experimentation, Martha Graham Dance Company has been an unparalleled resource in nurturing many of the leading choreographers and dancers of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, Pearl Lang, Pascal Rioult, and Paul Taylor. Graham’s repertoire of 181 works has also engaged noted performers such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Claire Bloom, Margot Fonteyn, Liza Minnelli, Rudolf Nureyev, Maya Plisetskaya, and Kathleen Turner. Today, the Company continues to foster Graham’s spirit of ingenuity. It is embracing a new programming vision that showcases masterpieces by Graham alongside newly commissioned works by contemporary artists inspired by Graham’s legacy. With programs that unite the work of choreographers across time within a rich historical and thematic narrative, the Company is actively working to create new platforms for contemporary dance and multiple points of access for audiences.


Jacob’s Pillow is a National Historic Landmark, recipient of the National Medal of Arts, and home to America’s longest-running international dance festival, currently in the midst of its transition to becoming a year-round center for dance through a five-year strategic plan titled Vision ‘22. Each Festival includes more than 50 national and international dance companies and over 500 free and ticketed performances, talks, tours, classes, exhibits, events, and community programs. The School at Jacob’s Pillow, one of the field’s most prestigious professional dance training centers, encompasses the diverse disciplines of Contemporary Ballet, Contemporary, Tap, Photography, Choreography, and an annual rotating program (Flamenco and Spanish Dance in 2019). With growing community engagement programs, the Pillow serves as a partner and active citizen in its local community. The Pillow’s extensive Archives, open year-round to the public and online at, chronicle more than a century of dance in photographs, programs, books, costumes, audiotapes, and videos. On March 2, 2011, President Barack Obama honored Jacob’s Pillow with a National Medal of Arts, the highest arts award given by the United States Government, making the Pillow the first dance presenting organization to receive this prestigious award. The Pillow’s Director is Pamela Tatge. For more information, visit


The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Institute’s library, consisting of more than 270,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

Noted for its distinctive architecture, including two buildings designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Tadao Ando, the Clark is situated on a 140-acre campus offering five miles of walking trails and exceptional vistas of meadows and woodlands and has a three-star rating in the Michelin Green Guide. Located at 225 South Street, Williamstown, Massachusetts, the Clark’s is open from 10 am to 5 pm, daily in July and August and from Tuesday through Sunday between September and June. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. Free admission is available through several programs, including First Sundays Free; a local library pass program; EBT Card to Culture; and Blue Star Museums. For more information on these programs and more, visit or call 413 458 2303.