Lamentation (1930)2018-10-31T13:11:11+00:00

Project Description

Lamentation premiered in New York City on January 8, 1930, at Maxine Elliot’s Theater, to music by the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály. The dance 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 which presents the very essence of grief. The figure in this dance is neither human nor animal, neither male nor female: it is grief itself.

According to Martha Graham, after one performance of the work she was visited by a woman in the audience who had recently seen her child killed in an accident. Viewing Lamentation enabled her to grieve, as she realized that “grief was a dignified and valid emotion and that I could yield to it without shame.”