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Martha Graham Interprets Greek Myths: Violence and Revenge through the Dancing Body

On Saturday, September 24, Dr. Nina Papathanasopoulou, Classics Professor at College Year in Athens (CYA), gave a presentation on the American choreographer Martha Graham and her reimagining of Greek Mythology entitled “Martha Graham Interprets Greek Myths.” The event was organized by the Theatre Arts and Dance Department of the Frances Rich School of Fine and Performing Arts and was supported by the Institute for Hellenic Culture and the Liberal Arts (IHCLA).

The presentation integrated Graham technique arrangements and excerpts from Graham’s repertory works into an informative and engaging talk centered on the myth of Oedipus and Jocasta. For her presentations, Dr. Papathanasopoulou collaborates with renowned Graham technique and repertory instructor Ms. Penny Diamantopoulou and a group of professional dancers, all graduates from the Greek National School of Dance.

Dr. Papathanasopoulou’s presentations, while educational and entertaining, aim to provide access to an academic analysis of Greek myth; promote appreciation for the value of modern dance and the Graham technique; and highlight both the influence of the Ancient Greeks on American culture and the contribution of American art to the interpretation and reinvention of ancient Greek myth.

I loved the performance so much. It gave me goosebumps. The explanation of how Martha Graham worked as a dancer and how she conceived the myths was breathtaking. I have never heard anyone in my entire life talk about ancient myths the way Dr. Papathanasopoulou expressed them. The dancing was INCREDIBLE. My favorite performance was Night Journey because I wasn’t expecting that much “aggression” from the dancers … I was at the edge of my seat. Now, Martha Graham has to be one of my favorite artists! It was fascinating, and if I had the chance, I would see it again. – Konstadia Pavlidi, Deree-ACG student

Photos: Dimitris Mamaloukos