Dancers from BalletMet 2 and The Ohio State University Department of Dance performed Martha Graham’s Steps in the Street (1936) / Devastation–Homelessness–Exile during the Dance on Mount Vernon performance on October 10. This work first premiered at the Guild Theater in New York City on December 20, 1936, as one part of a larger work entitled Chronicle. The dance was a response to problems happening in the world at the time, specifically the rise of fascism in Europe.
Performing this piece was especially poignant for the all-female dancers who felt the work was given a new meaning amid the current state of political turmoil, continuing fights for equality, and long-overdue needed change.
We’d like to share some feedback from a few participants:
Régisseur Peggy Lyman Hayes from the Martha Graham Dance Company: “Every time I stage Martha Graham’s 1936 ballet Steps in the Street I am struck by how it continues to be relevant to contemporary dancers and audiences. Originally choreographed as a protest of Franco’s fascism rule in Spain, her chosen themes of “Devastation-Homelessness-Exile” still resonate with today’s population. Passing on this masterpiece to the next generation of dancers is a treasured experience for me because I know they are living through both the isolation of Covid and the inequality of cultural and economic opportunity. My hope is that dancing through the choreographic struggles and seeing the refusal of the one lone dancer to follow blindly to the beat of the war drum, has been a beacon of hope to the young dancing artists.”
Ambre Emory-Maier, MFA, MA, BA, 500-ERYT Director of Education, Equity and Community Engagement; BalletMet 2 Associate Director BalletMet: “One of the most striking things about Martha Graham’s work, Steps in the Street, is the commentary about how the individual, literally moving against the group with strength and unrelenting effort, can through great courage, be a force in resisting oppression. BalletMet 2 is amazingly lucky to learn and experience the history of this work and its current relevance within their bodies.”
BalletMet 2 dancer Angelina Broad: “This piece is important to me because it opened my eyes to issues that I have never been affected by personally but was very real to women at that time. It has also showed me that although conditions may not be as extreme now in modern day as it was back then, many women still have to face discrimination, homelessness, etc. It made me aware of the greater issues that exist in this world, and how women fought to be where we are now and continue to fight to this day.”
BalletMet 2 dancer, Iris Dávila: Steps in the Street really showcases the tragedy of war and devastation, and oppression towards Jews at the time. Although this piece was made based on events that happened years ago, in the present day we face a similar devastation and oppression towards different race groups. Steps in the Street shows the pain that people had to go through in order to live.”