Tag Archives: Merce Cunningham

IF THE DANCER DANCES

“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.” — Meg Harper

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.

IF THE DANCER DANCES

Through May 9.

Q & A with former Cunningham dancers following 3 pm show on May 4.

Music Hall

9036 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills.

.

Monday and Tuesday, May 6 and 7.

Q & A with former Cunningham dancers following 7:30 pm show on May 6.

Royal

11523 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Los Angeles.

Playhouse 7

673 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena.

From top: Nicholas Sciscione and Davalois Fearon in If the Dancer Dances, performing Merce Cunningham ‘s RainForest; Jaqlin Medlock and Sciscione rehearsing RainForest; Meg Harper (center) with Fearon in rehearsal, Gino Grenek behind Foster; Stephen Petronio Company, Grenek, Fearon, and Sciscione, RainForest performance, Joyce Theater, April 2015, photograph by Yi-Chun Wu, image © 2015 and courtesy the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, and the photographer; Stephen Petronio. Film stills courtesy of Monument Releasing. Below: Merce Cunningham in RainForest, 1968, photograph by Martha Keller, courtesy of the Merce Cunningham Trust.

MERCE CUNNINGHAM — NIGHT OF 100 SOLOS

On Tuesday, in celebration of what would have been Merce Cunningham‘s 100th birthday, the Merce Cunningham Trust will present NIGHT OF 100 SOLOS—A CENTENNIAL EVENT.

In three venues—first at London’s Barbican, then at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and finally at UCLA—an 80-minute performance of 100 overlapping solos will be overseen by Merce Cunningham 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 Dylan Crossman. Jennifer Steinkamp 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 Paige Amicon, Barry Brannum, Lorrin Brubaker, Rena Butler, Tamsin Carlson, 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, Savannah Spratt, Pam Tanowitz, Ros WarbyRiley Watts, and Sam Wentz, with Cemiyon Barber and Una Ludviksen as understudies.

NIGHT OF 100 SOLOS—A CENTENNIAL EVENT

Tuesday, April 16, at 8 pm.

Royce Hall, UCLA

10745 Dickson Court, Los Angeles.

From top: Gerda Peterich, Merce Cunningham in Sixteen Dances for Soloist and Company of Three (detail), 1952; Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled [Merce (III)] , 1953, courtesy of the Robert Rauschenberg 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).

MALPASO AT THE WALLIS

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 The Wallis—the Cuban troupe investigates the archives of high modernism. The performances will open with Jamie Scott’s restaging of Merce Cunningham’s FIELDING SIXES—music by John Cage—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 TABULA RASA, which will close the shows.

Rounding out the program are Malpaso artistic director and co-founder Osnel Delgado’s OCASO, and company member Beatriz García’s new work SER (BEING).

On opening night, join the artists for a post-performance talk-back.

MALPASO DANCE COMPANY

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, March 28, 29, and 30.

All shows at 7:30 pm.

Bram Goldsmith Theater

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

9390 Santa Monica Boulevard North, Beverly Hills.

Malpaso Dance Company. Photographs by Lawrence K. Ho.

WINTER DANCE AT REDCAT

This weekend, CalArts Winter Dance at Redcat takes an iconic turn with a presentation of works by revolutionaries Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Trisha Brown, Rennie HarrisJiří 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 Toritseju Danner and drummer Emilia Moscoso Borja will accompany SHELTER.

Kylián’s FALLING ANGELS 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 Brandon Carson, 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.

CALARTS WINTER DANCE

Friday and Saturday, December 7 and 8, at 8:30 pm.

Redcat

631 West 2nd Street, downtown Los Angeles.

From top: Facing Mekka, Rennie HarrisCanfield, Merce CunninghamShelter, Jawole Willa Jo ZollarSolo Olos, Trisha Brown; Falling AngelsJiří 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.

MERCE CUNNINGHAM — CLOUDS AND SCREENS

MERCE CUNNINGHAM—CLOUDS AND SCREENS, part of many upcoming worldwide celebrations of the choreographer’s centenary, will be up at LACMA into 2019.

The exhibition includes video installations by Charles Atlas and Andy Warhol, as well as two video projections of early dances by Cunningham.

 

MERCE CUNNINGHAM—CLOUDS AND SCREENS

Through March 31.

LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Above: Merce Cunningham and John Cage in an image from the 2017 exhibition catalog Merce Cunningham—Common Time. Image credit: Walker Art Center, MCA/Chicago, and LACMA.

Below: Charles AtlasMC⁹, 2012, Walker Art Center. Photograph by Gene Pittman, © Charles Atlas, courtesy Walker Art Center.