Chronicle premiered at the Guild Theater in New York City on December 20th, 1936. Today, some eighty years on, it is every bit as powerful and meaningful as it must have seemed back in the day. The score, by  Wallingford Riegger, remains alive and vibrant, and the costumes (by Ms. Graham) include the iconic red-lined gown worn by the leading dancer in the ballet's opening movement, Spectre - 1914, which she manipulates to striking effect.


It was in Spectre - 1914 this afternoon that Leslie Andrea Williams (above, in a Melissa Sherwood photo) showed herself a commanding presence: a pillar of feminine power and grace. Rising from Isamu Noguchi's two-tiered podium, Ms. Williams seized the audience's imagination with her intense commitment. Her port de bras fascinate with the dancer's lyrical wingspan, which is as sweeping and victorious as that of the tennis world's Venus Williams. Swirling the skirt about her, this young Graham goddess evoked a tidal wave of applause from the packed house as the solo ended.

Marzia Memoli, a relative newcomer at Graham who hails from Palermo, danced with passion in Chronicle's second movement, the rallying cry of Steps in the Street. Ms. Memoli is a petite woman who dances large, making every step and gesture count.

In the final movement, Prelude to Action, Ms. Williams returns, now clad in white. She and Ms. Memoli together urge the sisterhood to take courage and move bravely into the future. Later, Anne O'Donnell joins them in an inspiring trio; they use the podium as a base from which to preside over the community's surging vitality. 

Has any other corps de ballet been called upon to execute such steps as Martha Graham asks of the women in Chronicle? In small sub-units, the girls charge across the stage in flying leaps, knees tucked up; they rush madly across the space, some executing immaculate cartwheels. It's non-stop, arduous dancing...and the Graham women make it thrilling: So Young An, Alyssa Cebulski, Laurel Dalley Smith, Natasha Diamond-Walker, Charlotte Landreau, Cara McManus, Anne Souder, and Xin Ying.

In an alternate Chronicle cast, when Xin Ying and Anne Souder take the leading roles, Ms. Williams and Ms. Memoli appear in the corps. "It's an honor to dance in my corps de ballet," Serge de Diaghilev once said. Martha Graham might say the same thing.