Chronicle (1936)2018-10-31T12:47:04+00:00

Project Description

Chronicle premiered at the Guild Theater in New York City on December 20, 1936. The dance was a response to the menace of fascism in Europe; earlier that year, Graham had refused an invitation to take part in the 1936 Olympic Games in Germany, stating: “I would find it impossible to dance in Germany at the present time. So many artists whom I respect and admire have been persecuted, have been deprived of the right to work for ridiculous and unsatisfactory reasons, that I should consider it impossible to identify myself, by accepting the invitation, with the regime that has made such things possible. In addition, some of my concert group would not be welcomed in Germany” (a reference to the fact that many members of her group were Jewish). “Chronicle does not attempt to show the actualities of war; rather does it, by evoking war’s images, set forth the fateful prelude to war, portray the devastation of spirit which it leaves in its wake, and suggest an answer.” This is one of the very few dances Martha Graham made which can be said to express explicitly political ideas, but, unlike Immediate Tragedy (1937) and Deep Song (1937), dances she made in response to the Spanish Civil War, this dance is not a realistic depiction of events. The intent is to universalize the tragedy of war. The original dance, with a score by Wallingford Riegger, was forty minutes in length, divided into five sections: “Dances before Catastrophe: Spectre–1914 and Masque,” “Dances after Catastrophe: Steps in the Street and Tragic Holiday,” and “Prelude to Action.” The Company has reconstructed and now performs “Spectre–1914,” “Steps in the Street” and “Prelude to Action.”