In conjunction with the exhibition SILKE OTTO-KNAPP—IN THE WAITING ROOM—curated by Solveig Øvstebø—the Renaissance Society and the Logan Center for the Arts present MOVING IMAGES, a series of dance films by Yvonne Rainer, Babette Mangolte and Trisha Brown, and Charles Atlas and Merce Cunningham.
Post-screening, Otto-Knapp will discuss the films.
“The beauty of dance… is that it gets passed from one body, one soul, to another. There’s something so beautiful, so precious about that. It comes out of the body, it goes into the air, and then it disappears.” — Stephen Petronio
In the afterglow of the Merce Cunningham—Night of 100 Solos events, the immersive new documentary IF THE DANCER DANCES tells a different Cunningham story: the 2015 restaging of the choreographer’s RainForest by the Stephen Petronio Company.
The sexual quality and hint of narrative in this 1968 dance—with music by David Tudor, costumes by Jasper Johns, and décor by Andy Warhol (the silver, helium-filled pillows)—create an atmosphere distinct from almost every other Cunningham work. The challenge for the stagers—and Cunningham company veterans—Andrea Weber, Meg Harper, and Rashaun Mitchell is replacing the continuous-movement ethos of the Petronio dancers with Cunningham’s non-momentum aesthetic. As the film demonstrates, how to do this is perhaps a subject of dispute:
“The focus needs to be exactly on what you’re doing, and not on an image of anything.” — MegHarper
“RainForest… transcended pure movement… [The dancers] need to hear images that might help them.” — Gus Solomons, Jr., Cunningham company veteran
IF THE DANCER DANCES—directed by Lise Friedman and Maia Wechsler—mixes extensive performance and interview footage of Petronio’s dancers and their teachers with scenes of Cunningham rehearsals from the 1960s. This essential document of modern dance making and Cunningham’s philosophy and practice is playing around town through May 9.
In three venues—first at London’s Barbican, then at the Brooklyn Academy ofMusic, and finally at UCLA—an 80-minute performance of 100 overlapping solos will be overseen by MerceCunningham Dance Company alumni as the work of the late, great choreographer continues to invigorate the canon and astonish new generations.
“This Event, and the longstanding, continuing partnerships with these three premier organizations, are true signs that the Cunningham legacy is alive and well ten years after his passing.” — Ken Tabachnick, executive director of the trust
In Los Angeles, the event will be staged by Andrea Weber—a dancer with the company from 2004 to 2011—with DylanCrossman. JenniferSteinkamp designed the set at Royce Hall, and Jessica Wodinsky is the lighting designer.
Madison Greenstone, Bethan Kellough, Stephan Moore, Stephanie Richards, and Suzanne Thorpe will provide live musical accompaniment, organized by Stephan Moore.
The dancers for the Los Angeles section are PaigeAmicon, BarryBrannum, LorrinBrubaker, Rena Butler, TamsinCarlson, Erin Dowd, Katherine Helen Fisher, Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, Casey Hess, Thomas House, Laurel Jenkins, Burr Johnson, Vanessa Knouse, Cori Kresge, Brian Lawson, Jessica Liu, Victor Lozano, Daniel McCusker, Polly Motley, Jermaine Maurice Spivey, SavannahSpratt, Pam Tanowitz, Ros Warby, Riley Watts, and Sam Wentz, with Cemiyon Barber and UnaLudviksen as understudies.
From top: Gerda Peterich, Merce Cunningham in Sixteen Dances for Soloist and Company ofThree (detail), 1952; Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled [Merce (III)] , 1953, courtesy of the RobertRauschenberg Foundation; Andrea Weber at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2012, dancing Cunningham as part of the exhibition Dancing Around the Bride, photograph by Constance Mensh; Cunningham (2).
In its Los Angeles debut just over a year ago, Malpaso Dance Company performed a contemporary program and at one point were joined onstage at the Dorothy Chandler by Arturo O’Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble.
For their return this week—three nights at the comparatively intimate Bram Goldsmith Theater at TheWallis—the Cuban troupe investigates the archives of high modernism. The performances will open with Jamie Scott’s restaging of Merce Cunningham’s FIELDINGSIXES—music by JohnCage—which premiered at Sadler’s Wells in 1980.
Ohad Naharin went to Havana last year to collaborate with Malpaso in its restaging of Naharin’s thirty-year-old masterwork TABULARASA, which will close the shows.
Rounding out the program are Malpaso artistic director and co-founder Osnel Delgado’s OCASO, and company member BeatrizGarcía’s new work SER (BEING).
On opening night, join the artists for a post-performance talk-back.
This weekend, CalArtsWinter Dance at Redcat takes an iconic turn with a presentation of works by revolutionaries Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Trisha Brown, Rennie Harris, Jiří Kylián, and Merce Cunningham, staged by dancers who carry deep histories of the choreographers’ practices and intentions.
Cunningham’s CANFIELD (1969) will be staged by his former company member Holley Farmer, Zollar’s SHELTER (1988) by fellow Urban Bush Women member Marjani Forté, and Brown’s SOLO OLOS (1976) by her former company member Samuel Wentz.
For CANFIELD, Ben Richter, Justin Scheid, and Davy Sumner will perform a score by Pauline Oliveros, and actor-vocalist ToritsejuDanner and drummer Emilia Moscoso Borja will accompany SHELTER.
Kylián’s FALLINGANGELS is staged by Fiona Lummis, who danced with Nederlands Dans Theater in the 1989 premiere of the piece. Live percussion will be provided by drummers BrandonCarson, Katie Eikam, Jason Fragoso, and Kevin Good performing a composition by Steve Reich.
FACING MEKKA was choreographed in 2003 by Harris—whose new Lazarus for the Alvin Ailey company created a sensation in New York last week—and will be staged by Nina Flagg, a former member of Rennie Harris Puremovement.
Friday and Saturday, December 7 and 8, at 8:30 pm.
631 West 2nd Street, downtown Los Angeles.
From top: Facing Mekka, Rennie Harris; Canfield, Merce Cunningham; Shelter, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; Solo Olos, Trisha Brown; Falling Angels, Jiří Kylián; and Facing Mekka. All images from the CalArts Winter Dance Concert, November 2018, at CalArts. Photographs by Rafael Hernandez, courtesy CalArts. Special thanks to Kelly Hargraves and Margaret Crane.