Dance review: Martha Graham Dance Company features angels of all kinds

"Phaedra" is one of the Graham pieces featured in Program A, originally from 1962. Credit: Costas
“Phaedra” is one of the Graham pieces featured in Program A, originally from 1962.
Credit: Costas

The Martha Graham Dance Company just can’t catch a break. Finally back on its feet after years of legal turmoil, the 87-year-old troupe last year celebrated its move to the Greenwich Village studios vacated by Merce Cunningham’s defunct organization — only to have its basement storage space swamped by Sandy. Priceless sets and costumes were damaged or destroyed.

Janet Eilber, current artistic director, faces two challenges: getting Graham classics back onstage after this crushing blow and adding new works to the repertory to attract young audiences. Scores of volunteers are helping by restoring the scenery, lending costumes (the ensemble will dance Graham’s lovely “Diversion of Angels” in dresses belonging to American Ballet Theatre) and donating choreography, time and money. The current Joyce season includes a new Luca Veggetti piece and a preview of a work by Nacho Duato.

Program A features “The Show (Achilles Heels),” Richard Move’s fantasia on themes from Homer’s “Iliad.” Originally commissioned by Mikhail Baryshnikov (whose voice still lingers on the voiceover, to which the dancers lip-synch), this cheeky piece includes a game show and songs by Deborah Harry of Blondie in its Arto Lindsay score. Overlong, overstuffed and intermittently static, it nevertheless has its charms — notably the physiques of many nearly naked young men, a meme Move borrows from Graham herself, as well as Natasha Diamond-Walker playing a horse. And 1962’s “Phaedra,” not Graham’s best work, also shares this program: It’s one of many descants on Greek myths that obsessed the pioneering modernist.

Program B, three vintage Graham works, is for purists; Program C includes her “Angels” and others’ variations on her themes.

If you go

Martha Graham Dance Company
Through March 3
Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Ave.; 212-242-0800
$10-$59; www.joyce.org


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