Choreography and Costumes by Martha Graham
Staged by Takako Asakawa
Assistant to Miss Asakawa: Kenneth Topping
Music by Norman Dello Joio
Lighting by Brad Fields, after Jean Rosenthal

Running time: 17:00

The following quote from Ben Belitt was used by Martha Graham as a poetic program note for Diversion of Angels. It is a poetic narrative that has the same feeling as the piece.

“It is the place of the Rock and Ladder, the raven, the blessing, the tempter, the rose. It is the wish of the single-hearted, the undivided; play after the spirit’s labor; games, flights, fancies, configurations of the lover’s intention; the believed Possibility, at once strenuous and tender; humors of innocence, garlands, evangels, Joy on the wilderness stair; diversion of angels.”
-- Ben Belitt

Diversion of Angels is a lyric dance about the loveliness of youth, the pleasure and playfulness, quick joy and quick sadness of being in love for the first time.

The dance follows no story. Its action takes place in the imaginary garden love creates for itself. The ballet was originally called Wilderness Stair. Martha Graham once described Diversion of Angels as three aspects of love; the white couple represents mature love in perfect balance; red, erotic love; and yellow, adolescent love.

Diversion of Angels, under the title Wilderness Stair, received its World Premiere by the Martha Graham Dance Company on August 13, 1948 at the Palmer Auditorium, New London, Connecticut, danced by May O’Donnell, Pearl Lang, Helen McGehee, Dorothea Douglas, Joan Skinner, Dorothy Berea, Natanya Neumann, Erick Hawkins, Mark Ryder, Robert Cohan, Stewart Hodes, and Dale Sehnert.

Under the title Diversion of Angels, it was given at the Eighth Street Theatre, Chicago, Illinois on March 20, 1949, and had its New York Premiere at the 46th Street Theater on January 22, 1950 with Yuriko replacing May O’Donnell.

Diversion of Angels was given its American Ballet Theatre Company Premiere at City Center, New York on October 23, 1999, danced by Gillian Murphy, Maxim Belotserkovsky, Ashley Tuttle, Keith Roberts, Yan Chen, and Joaquin De Luz.