Errand into the Maze
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. 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. The piece premiered at the Ziegfeld Theatre on February 28, 1947, with Graham as the protagonist, a sort of female Theseus, 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.” Barely fifteen minutes in length, 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.
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.
- Walter Terry, The Dance, New York Herald Tribune, March 1, 1947, http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.natlib.ihas.200153678/default.html >
- Stuart Hodes, Part Real, Part Dream: Dancing with Martha Graham, Concord ePress, 3rd edition, August 2011, location 3342
- 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
- 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
- Joseph Stevenson, Gian Carlo Menotti, Errand into the Maze, ballet, Allmusic.com http://www.allmusic.com/composition/errand-into-the-maze-ballet-mc0002358764
- 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
- Martha Graham, Errand into the Maze, 1990 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieMO1Z0UhGQ
- Martha Graham Dance Company Repertory http://marthagraham.org/press-presenters2/repertory/