This year, news headlines will turn into dance — on the Internet.
The Martha Graham Dance Company is launching a global competition challenging anyone who's cyber-savvy to transform the late choreographer's masterpiece, "Clytemnestra," into an online video.
The hitch: picking a "celebrity" from Clytemnestra's Greek mythical life — and creating a four-minute scene linked to today's life.
The winning footage in "The Clytemnestra ReMash Challenge" will premiere during the company's New York season in May.
"We are reaching out to contestants globally and showcasing the rich legacy of Graham and its influence on American dance," said Tadej Brdnik, a Martha Graham principal dancer who appears in the current revival of Graham's 1958 masterpiece. The production has won rave reviews during the company's recent run in Athens and Washington.
Five videos are posted on a special Web site, www.marthagrahamprojects.com, depicting five characters from the production. Participants are told "to create a modern twist on those ancient characters through current pop culture, news, personalities or events."
Even today's news would be hard-pressed to match the twisted story of "Clytemnestra," a meditation on insanity, vengeance and the murder of a mother based on an ancient Greek tale as recounted by Aeschylus. A married woman has an affair with her husband's archrival, while he is busy with the Trojan War. The husband sacrifices their daughter to the gods in return for victory. When he returns home, he brings along his concubine. His wife kills them both, and is then herself murdered by her son.
The multimedia contest, which opens online Feb. 1 and runs through March 31, is an effort to reach new audiences, says Janet Eilber, the company's artistic director.
"It has the potential to create remarkable hybrid art that connects the ancient and recent past to what is happening today," she said.
Graham, who died in 1991, started the company that gave its first performance in 1926. With a bold new language of movement expressing the searing emotions of human experience, she put American modern dance on the world stage. Her largest-scale work was "Clytemnestra," with music by the Egyptian-born composer Halim El-Dabh.
A panel of experts in dance and media will select the winning video clip, which comes with $500 and the world premiere; second and third prizes are awarded $250 each and will also be showcased.