Michigan native Gretchen Eichberger will be making her directorial debut with her adaptation of American Document, a dance-drama inspired by Martha Graham. The performances will take place on August 27 and 28 at the Mills Community House. Both performances will begin at 7:30 pm.
Premiering in the 1930’s this experimental dance work incorporated vaudevillian structures, folk rhythms, and spoken text to examine the conflict and the ever evolving questions; “What is America? and What is an American?” Martha Graham is regarded as one of the foremost pioneers of modern dance, whose influence on dance can be compared to the influence Picasso had on the visual arts and Frank Lloyd Wright had on architecture. A performer of astounding productivity and originality, she invented a new language for movement, and used it to reveal the passion, the rage, and the ecstasy common to human experience.
Eichberger gained the inspiration for the idea to direct the work after completing an intensive study at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Her version is the nation’s first ever civic production of the piece. The production will include excerpts from Benzonia native and Pulitzer-prize winning author, Bruce Catton’s Waiting for the Morning Train, a novel that describes growing up in northern Michigan. One passage in particular summarized by Catton rings true today; “Our American heritage is greater than any one of us. It can express itself in very homely truths; in the end it can lift up our eyes beyond the glow in the sunset skies.”
“The Graham Company will begin its campaign to invite student and civic groups around the country to participate in the creation of new American Documents as part of their Political Dance Project in the fall of 2010. The program was piloted on one high school in Manhattan and it was a great success” states Janet Eilber, Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Center. “Ms. Eichberger is ahead of the curve . The Graham Center is pleased to have the Ms. Eichberger and the Mills Community House Association as a creative partner in its Political Dance Project.”
Cast members include; Holly Wren Spaulding of Maple City, Tim Joseph of Brethren, Hughthir White of Empire, Stephen Kelly of Bear Lake, James Weston, Jamaica Lynn Weston of Traverse City, Brooke Beuby of Rapid City, and Rick Jones of Interlochen.
Funding for this production has been awarded by the Michigan Council for Cultural Arts and Affairs and the Northsky NonProfit Network. It is the keynote program for the Mills Community House one-hundredth anniversary celebration.
Inquiries regarding the Mills 100th Anniversary Celebration and the American Document production by calling the 231-889-0591 or visit the Mills Community House website www.millscommunityhouse.org