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Errand into the Maze is a Martha Graham ballet based on a poem by Ben Belitt set to music by Gian Carlo Menotti. The surrealistic set was designed by Isamu Noguchi, the costumes by Graham herself.[1] The dance uses the Greek myth of Ariadne and the Minotaur to explore the theme of conquering one’s inner demons, more specifically the fear of sexual intimacy.[2] The piece premiered at the Ziegfeld Theatre on February 28, 1947, with Graham as the protagonist, a sort of female Theseus,[3] and Mark Ryder as the Minotaur-like character.

The original program notes describe the action as “that errand-journey into the maze of the heart to face and do battle with the Creature of Fear.”[4] Barely fifteen minutes in length,[5] Errand into the Maze is designed almost as a solo work, with the bull-horned, staff (bone)-carrying Creature of Fear serving more as a prop than an active participant.[6]

The unnamed female protagonist weaves her way through a rope maze outlined on the stage to arrive at a set (originally by Isamu Noguchi) that includes a suggestive v-shaped wooden frame (like a tree, or a woman’s crotch) <https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20190216/dance-review-americas-oldest-dance-troupe-looks-as-fresh-as-ever></ref> She is confronted three times by the creature, ultimately overpowering him. He drops the bone/staff as he sinks to the floor in surrender. The heroine dances in the void between the two vertical set elements as the curtain falls.[7]

Errand into the Maze is one of the choreographer's best-known and most popular ballets. It remains in the Martha Graham Dance Company repertory.[8]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Walter Terry, The Dance, New York Herald Tribune, March 1, 1947, http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.natlib.ihas.200153678/default.html >
  2. ^ Stuart Hodes, Part Real, Part Dream: Dancing with Martha Graham, Concord ePress, 3rd edition, August 2011, location 3342
  3. ^ John Martin, Miss Graham Gives a New Dance Work, The New York Times, March 1, 1947, http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.natlib.ihas.200153681/pageturner.html
  4. ^ S. Hurok presents Martha Graham, Ziegfeld Theatre, Monday, February 24, through Sunday, March 2 http://lcweb2.loc.gov/natlib/ihas/service/graham.1/200153664/200153664.pdf
  5. ^ Joseph Stevenson, Gian Carlo Menotti, Errand into the Maze, ballet, Allmusic.com http://www.allmusic.com/composition/errand-into-the-maze-ballet-mc0002358764
  6. ^ Cecil Smith, The Maze of the Heart, Dance in Review, Theatre Arts, May 1947 http://lcweb2.loc.gov/natlib/ihas/service/graham.1/200153706/200153706.pdf
  7. ^ Martha Graham, Errand into the Maze, 1990 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieMO1Z0UhGQ
  8. ^ Martha Graham Dance Company Repertory http://marthagraham.org/press-presenters2/repertory/