Martha Graham forever changed contemporary dance when she came onto the scene in 1926 with her Center of Contemporary Dance. Eighty-six years later and her style continues to shape the world of dance, even for those rooted in classical ballet. Tonight, Russian prima ballerina Diana Vishneva, acclaimed as one of the world's great ballerinas, will be making her New York premier of Martha Graham's "Errand Into the Maze" at The New York City Center.
"To me, Martha Graham choreography is like the adventures of the blind cat in the darkness; you are making the steps that you've never done before," Vishneva, 35, said, who previously performed "Errand" in Russia. "People spend years to learn the style of other choreographers, and for me it was such an adventure."
The Martha Graham Dance Company is the oldest dance troupe in the U.S. Graham took years of traditional dance and turned it on its head, morphing the strict training of classical dance into the emotional movement of modern dance. Her 1947 work "Errand Into the Maze" did for a classic Greek myth what she did for dance; molding it into a story of her own. In this case, Graham took the myth of Theseus and instead focused on the heroine, Ariadne.
Vishneva is filling the role of Ariadne, performing alongside Ben Schultz.
"I feel like my hero Ariadne in 'Errand of the Maze,' who was trying to find her way out in the darkness," Vishneva explained intensely, waving her hands emphatically. "This feeling is very important when I start a new style of choreography."
Vishneva is a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre and Mariinsky Ballet. It is apparent she has been a dancer for most of her 35 years; her long, thin but muscular body moves fluidly. In addition to the New York premier of "Errand into the Maze," Vishneva will be performing her project "Dialogues," which explores the evolution of modern dance since the 20th century.
Like Graham, Vishenva sees dance as an opportunity to push her boundaries as a woman, emotional being and dancer.
"I dance as if I am a painter -- I am painting my career with different colors," Vishneva said. "Modern and contemporary choreography is one of the important parts. We should remember, I am a modern person and a modern woman. And, of course the classical ballet are masterpieces, but to feel what's going on today, to feel the time, to feel yourself, of course you can get the feelings through modern and contemporary choreography."
Watch a preview of the performance at the New York City Center:
On March 14, the Martha Graham Dance Company with Diana Vishneva will perform "Errand into the Maze" for one night only, along with "Chronicle" featuring dancer Fang-Yi Sheu. Vishenva will also be performing her work "Dialogues" that includes "Errand into the Maze" March 16-18 at The New York City Center.