Carroll County Times

Celebrate Spring with rare ballet performance

The treats of spring include forsythia, daffodils, violets, jonquils, warmth and sunshine.

But for all of us Baltimore-area folks, this year is bringing another treat of "spring."

I'm speaking of "Appalachian Spring," the landmark modern ballet that will be presented this weekend in Baltimore for the first time in 66 years.

Baltimore School for the Arts received the rarely granted permission to perform the ballet created by modern dance titan Martha Graham.

Teenage students, never before educated in the unique Graham technique, will present the ballet as a showpiece of a weekend Appalachian Spring festival.

The complete ballet is probably familiar to few, but most of us can hum the Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts" which is used by composer Aaron Copeland in various motifs for the dancers and orchestra.

The ballet had auspicious beginnings. Graham choreographed, for herself the leading role of the Bride. Copeland has been quoted as saying he titled the piece "Ballet for Martha" because he didn't know the title she would pick. Moreover, he comments, he saw the ballet only shortly before it opened in the Library of Congress auditorium.

The title - I learned after punching a few Internet buttons - was chosen by Graham from one line in Hugh Crane's lengthy poem "The Bridge."

And what it all has - or doesn't have - to do with Appalachia is anybody's guess.

All part, I suppose, of the Martha Graham mystique. The ballet story, however, demonstrates worthwhile virtues.

Gorgeous, glamorous, unique, enormously talented - that was Martha.

Fun for us common herd to sample her incredible talent.

Performances at the School for the Arts will be on Friday at 7 p.m. and on Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Various festival activities are continuing this week.