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Martha on Mother's Day

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Martha Graham died in 1991, and she never had children (though one critic purportedly said of her appearance in Lamentation that it looked as if she was about to give birth--to a cube). Yet she'll be in Chicago this Sunday--reincarnated in the six-foot, four-inch Richard Move--to celebrate her role as the mother of modern dance. Move began impersonating Graham in 1996 in cabaret performances at Mother, a performing arts space in New York's meatpacking district. But what takes this tongue-in-cheek lecture-demonstration beyond mere drag show is his true understanding and appreciation of the dance diva. Dithery and somewhat inarticulate in a television interview ("My character study of Martha is that...I clearly worship her"), Move is entirely self-possessed when he "channels" Graham in the lecture portions of his shows, capturing not only her hauteur and self-dramatization but also her passion and intelligence. As he said in the same interview, "My Martha is not the arthritic, gnarled-hands, alcoholic, postalcoholic, rage-oholic woman....She's a woman in her early 50s who looks like the average 30-year-old." Joined by Jennifer Binford in the dance sections, Move re-creates some of Graham's best-known work, making us think about the fundamental androgyny of her technique: on the videotape he looks more fluid and feminine than the female dancers interpreting Graham, whose signature contraction-release movement tends to have a reptilian hardness. Never afraid to sport with the grande dame or with dance in general ("A dancer learns to point her feet so hard her teeth hurt"), Move nevertheless evinces a great reverence for his idol and her work. (This event concludes Performing Arts Chicago's "CineDance Festival: From Martha to Martha"; see movie listings for film events.) Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-722-5463 or 312-902-1500. Sunday, May 13, 7:30 PM. $25.

--Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Joseph Astor.

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