Graham’s legacy lives on through company

Martha Graham Dance Company

Martha Graham Dance Company

Dallas Williamson

The nation’s oldest and most prolific dance company is returning to Tucson, and this time the company is adding some local flavor to its program.

In continuing UApresents’ season of energetic and colorful performances, the Martha Graham Dance Company will take the Centennial Hall stage on Saturday night at 8 p.m. to showcase some of the most popular works of its namesake, Martha Graham.

Martha Graham is considered to be one of the most influential artists of all time. Knighted as one of the “”mothers of modern dance,”” Graham broke away from the graceful confines of classical ballet that prevailed in the early 1900s and invented a new movement vocabulary which explored the innermost struggles and emotions of the psyche. Founding the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1926, Graham went on to train many of the world’s most eminent performers, including Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, Pearl Lang and Paul Taylor.

During the course of her seventy-year career, Graham produced more than 181 original works, and her mesmerizing ingenuity earned her such accolades as the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Gerald Ford in 1976 and Time’s title of “”Dancer of the Century”” in 1998.

Now under the direction of artistic director Janet Eilber, the company continues to foster Graham’s passion for emotional artistic expression. Besides performing several of Graham’s most renowned masterpieces, the company has also begun to celebrate Graham’s legacy by showcasing the works of choreographers she has inspired.

Saturday night’s show will reflect this fusion of inspiration. Along with works based off Graham’s repertoire, such as “”Lamentation Variations,”” the concert will also highlight the choreographer’s signature. Including a cameo performance of Graham’s “”Panorama”” by the UA’s School of Dance, the concert will close with the full production of Graham’s famed “”Appalachian Spring.””