Excavation Site: Martha Graham U.S.A. | Performance Space New York

Excavation Site: Martha Graham U.S.A.

Excavation Site: Martha Graham U.S.A.
Michael Kliën (Austria)

In this one-time-only dance event, a multigenerational group of performers from the Martha Graham Dance Company’s past, present, and future will excavate their relationships to Graham and the underlying “movement forces” that bind them to one another, to Graham, and to the Company.

Organized by Austrian choreographer and artist Michael Kliën, Excavation Site: Martha Graham U.S.A. bypasses the institutionalized social structures of the Company to uncover new paths of organization and potential between its participants. The work utilizes strategies of social choreography developed in collaboration with dramaturge Steve Valk, who has organized a complementary discursive component that will unfold alongside the performance in an adjacent studio.

Audiences are invited to explore the work for any length of time and are encouraged to move freely between the two spaces.

Choreography: Michael Kliën
Dramaturgy: Steve Valk
Electronic Score: Volkmar Klien
Performers: Selected Martha Graham Company dancers and guests

Co-presented with New Museum and Martha Graham Dance Company

Jan 16 – 3pm to 7pm

Martha Graham Studios
55 Bethune Street, 11th floor, Manhattan



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For the past several decades, Michael Kliën has been engaged in fundamentally deconstructing our civilization’s assumptions on choreography, dance and culture. He set out to redevelop choreography as an autonomous artistic discipline concerned with the workings and governance of patterns, dynamics and ecologies. In response to the urgency of our contemporary ecological situation, this new conception of choreography engages its social potential to pursue sustainable orders of human relations (Social Choreography). Choreography, as an Aesthetics of Change, assumes the creative practice of setting relations, or setting the conditions for new relations to emerge.


Over the years Kliën’s artistic development has been guided by the ideas of Gregory Bateson, Alain Badiou, Joseph Beuys, William Forsythe, Steve Paxton, Gordon Lawrence, Sophia Lycouris and numerous close artistic collaborators such as Steve Valk, Jeffrey Gormly, Volkmar Kliën and Nicholas Mortimore amongst others.


Steve Valk is a contemporary dance dramaturge, visual artist and designer, lecturer and leading figure in the emerging field of Social Choreography. Influenced by his experiences as Personal Assistant of theatre director Robert Wilson (1988—90) he joined Ballett Frankfurt as Head Dramaturge and creative collaborator for William Forsythe (1992—2004). From 1998 to 2004, this dramaturgical practice and a subsequent focus on trans-disciplinary networking strategies lead to the development of a new participatory/situational epistemology for the institution of contemporary dance. From 2004 to 2011, Steve Valk, in partnership with choreographer and Artistic Director Michael Kliën, became Head Dramaturge and artistic collaborator of Ireland’s Daghdha Dance Company. Since 2012 he has been Director of the newly founded Institute of Social Choreography in Frankfurt, where he currently lives.

Founded in 1977, the New Museum is a leading destination for new art and new ideas. It is Manhattan’s only dedicated contemporary art museum and is respected internationally for the adventurousness and global scope of its curatorial program.
The New Museum is the only museum devoted exclusively to contemporary art in Manhattan and one of the leading contemporary art museums in the world. Founded in 1977, the New Museum was conceived as a center for exhibitions, information, and documentation on artists whose work had not yet had wide public exposure or critical acceptance. At its inception, the Museum lay somewhere between a grassroots alternative space and a major museum devoted to proven historical values. Today, the New Museum is a major cultural destination. Its size, name, and mission of “New Art, New Ideas” distinguishes it as a responsive institution that fosters innovation, collaboration, and understanding. newmuseum.org

New Museum
The Martha Graham Dance Company has been a leader in the development of contemporary dance since its founding in 1926. Today, the Company is embracing a new programming vision that showcases masterpieces by Graham alongside newly commissioned works by contemporary artists. During its 90-year history, the Company has received acclaim from audiences and critics in more than 50 countries.
“These men and women easily embody the choreographer’s sense of dancers as angelic athletes,” says Robert Greskovic of The Wall Street Journal, while Marina Kennedy of Broadway World notes, “This is contemporary dance at its very best.” Siobhan Burke of The New York Times asks, “Can this please never go away?”

Martha Graham Studios is located in Greenwich Village, Manhattan and is accessible by the A/C/E subway lines at 14th Street. This famous region on the west side of Manhattan is home to Washington Square Park, New York University, Cooper Union, St. Marks Place and a host of independent film houses and Off-Broadway theaters. Martha Graham Studios is close to Hudson Street, where audiences can pick from a plethora of restaurants scattered throughout.


Aside from untold numbers of shopping and dining options, there are plenty of neighborly activities…for recreation-seekers without memberships to the area’s multiple gyms, the Hudson River and its well-traveled waterside trails are a short walk away. – The New York Times


Featured image by Brigid Pierce
Excavation Site: Martha Graham U.S.A. is co-presented by the New Museum, as part of the Spring 2016 R&D Season: LEGACY; Martha Graham Dance Company, as part of its 90th season; and Performance Space 122 as part of the COIL 2016 Festival and is generously supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture and the Austrian Cultural Forum New York. PS122 presentation support provided by Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Harkness Foundation for Dance and Jerome Robbins Foundation.

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Dates: January 16

Type: Installation, Dance

Premiere Status: NY Premiere

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