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Merce Cunningham Living Legacy Plan


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#16 dirac

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 02:08 PM

Was this the remark you were referring to, miliosr?

When you have William Forsythe, Mark Morris and “La Sylphide” in one repertory, dancers need to be rehearsed with stylistic specificity. And there isn’t time or money for that.


Pina Bausch's company says it will carry on for now, and local officials say they will continue to provide funding for the immediate future.


“You never can say forever or never,” she said. “These are big words. Let’s see what the future will bring.” According to Ms. Albrecht, speaking only days after Ms. Bausch’s death, “the company is ready to preserve the heritage of Pina.”

In the meantime government officials of Wuppertal and the surrounding state, North Rhine-Westphalia, which provide almost all of the company’s financing, have said they will continue to provide money, at least for now, Ms. Albrecht said. In exchange the company promises to give 30 performances in Wuppertal each season. Statements by public officials confirm Ms. Albrecht’s optimism. “The whole world wants the work of Pina Bausch more than ever now,” said Hans-Heinrich Grosse-Brockhoff, the state’s culture secretary. “We’ll continue spending.”



#17 Alexandra

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 03:15 PM

Thanks for posting this, dirac. Bausch's work is going to be hard to keep, I think. It is so personal. I hope a lot has been filmed -- if so, though, it certainly hasn't been released on DVD.

#18 miliosr

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 03:34 PM

Was this the remark you were referring to, miliosr?

When you have William Forsythe, Mark Morris and “La Sylphide” in one repertory, dancers need to be rehearsed with stylistic specificity. And there isn’t time or money for that.


Yes.

#19 Mike Gunther

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 02:13 PM

Sorry to jump on this late, but isn't it premature until we see the results in living dance? If the Trust idea doesn't work, that will be obvious as different companies try and fail to put across this choreography. But if I was a dancer, which I'm not, jeez I'd at least like to try. To me, it's just too great to fossilize inside some video dance museum... especially for an audience fifty years from now that will see it live or not at all. Just my 2 cents.

#20 miliosr

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 03:19 PM

I was going through some papers and I found these extracts from a 1975 Anna Kisselgoff article in the NY Times. Everyone will have to decide for himself or herself how much they apply to the Cunningham Living Legacy Plan:

When asked should the distinction between modern dance and ballet be preserved, Martha Graham replied: "I feel very strongly. It is not a blending, it is not a meeting. The point of motivation is so different. That is why I have never been willing to give Appalachian Spring to the ballet companies that have asked for it. I said no because the standard of the dancers was high, but it was not inclusive of the state of mind and of the body necessary for the modern dance."

Ballet dancers "learn by line instead of volume," she declared, adding that modern dance "is a different idiom -- it's like playing a different instrument." With "legitimate teaching" of the technique, the ballet dancer can be trained to dance in modern dance works.

Asked whether it mattered if the choreography of modern dance works were changed by the dancers, Graham related the question to her own work in one of the strongest statements of her career: "It matters a great deal. I am tempted to destroy my works for the time when I am no longer here. I don't want them bastardized. I don't want them to lose their power by too much tinkering."

#21 miliosr

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 07:15 AM

http://www.nytimes.c...e...1&ref=dance

I created a general thread - 'Can Modern Dance Be Preserved?' - to discuss this subject in general.

#22 Simon G

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 07:38 AM

http://www.nytimes.c...n...=1&ref=arts

The comments by Mark Morris in the very last paragraph should serve as a useful reproach to those who say that ballet companies will sustain the unique qualities of the Cunningham repertory in the absence of an actual Cunningham company.



Miliosr,

I read that article too, and do you know what I've had a bit of a volte face about the Cunningham company and my views about its future. I'll post a bit later.

#23 miliosr

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 09:51 AM

Well, come what may with the Cunningham repertory, at least his successors will be well-capitated:

http://www.nytimes.c...s...=2&ref=arts

#24 dirac

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 10:01 AM

I was going through some papers and I found these extracts from a 1975 Anna Kisselgoff article in the NY Times. Everyone will have to decide for himself or herself how much they apply to the Cunningham Living Legacy Plan:

When asked should the distinction between modern dance and ballet be preserved, Martha Graham replied: "I feel very strongly. It is not a blending, it is not a meeting. The point of motivation is so different. That is why I have never been willing to give Appalachian Spring to the ballet companies that have asked for it. I said no because the standard of the dancers was high, but it was not inclusive of the state of mind and of the body necessary for the modern dance."

Ballet dancers "learn by line instead of volume," she declared, adding that modern dance "is a different idiom -- it's like playing a different instrument." With "legitimate teaching" of the technique, the ballet dancer can be trained to dance in modern dance works.

Asked whether it mattered if the choreography of modern dance works were changed by the dancers, Graham related the question to her own work in one of the strongest statements of her career: "It matters a great deal. I am tempted to destroy my works for the time when I am no longer here. I don't want them bastardized. I don't want them to lose their power by too much tinkering."


The NYT article makes the point that if there is no Cunningham company his dances will go to ballet companies almost by default, because many modern troupes don't have the technique.

#25 miliosr

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 11:41 AM

The NYT article makes the point that if there is no Cunningham company his dances will go to ballet companies almost by default, because many modern troupes don't have the technique.


But then the article goes on to say that very few companies ask to perform his works because of the music and those that do (presumably ballet companies) do not perform them in the correct technique and with the correct style.

So, they're really betwixt and between, aren't they?

#26 dirac

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 11:57 AM

The NYT article makes the point that if there is no Cunningham company his dances will go to ballet companies almost by default, because many modern troupes don't have the technique.


But then the article goes on to say that very few companies ask to perform his works because of the music and those that do (presumably ballet companies) do not perform them in the correct technique and with the correct style.

So, they're really betwixt and between, aren't they?


Sure looks that way.

#27 Simon G

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 03:59 PM

The question of who will perform the work and how is one of the reasons why I've been wondering if perhaps this two-year blow out, followed by a winding down isn't the best course of action.

The problem with Cunningham technique is how ferociously difficult it is to learn and develop and how misunderstood it can be in the hands and technique of ballet dancers; who assimilate and approximate into a balletic lexicon.

The most obvious example of this for me was the 1988 filming of ABT dancing Duets, originally made by Cunningham for his company in 1980. In the hands of the ballet dancers the rhythmic subtleties and nuances had been abstracted down to counts of 2,4 etc balletic counts, the use of the back was totally absent, the way Cunningham plays with extensions, setting them against curves and turns of the spine was substituted for developpes and arabesques, the men seemed content to be playing the Cavaliers in the Rose adagio, glissading prettily, supporting the women, bringing none of the wit and weight of a modern dancer schooled in Cunningham.

Which is the problem, if the technique isn't taught, who will dance the work? And a ballet dancer isn't a contemporary dancer, let alone a Cunningham dancer - though Cunningham's modern work is appealing to ballet dancers because the technique with its onus on extension, beats and balance does at first glance seem balletic. If no one is left to work closely with the ballet companies and school them properly in the technique - an impossiblity given financial & time constraints, how will ballet companies ever give performances of Cunningham works?

The other problem is of course the music or lack of it. Cunningham dances are dances of counts and rhythms taught and learnt independently of music, the rhythm is in the steps. Ballet of course is in its most basic sense inextricably linked to the music. Moreover, the sound used for Cunningham is alien, abrupt, sometimes abusive and aggressive - the very great Cunningham works provoke intense and hostile emotions on a pure level of sound. The antithesis of what ballet audiences are used to or expect. The works which have passed into ballet companies are palatable in terms of music: Duets, Pond Way, Points in Space none of them have the coruscating soundscapes of Canfield, Rainforest, Winterbranch.

And this is an issue Cunningham's choreographic legacy is marvelous, troubling and provocative - if all that will be allowed onto a ballet stage are polite and unobtrusive soundbites performed as ballet exercises, what is the point?

#28 LiLing

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 09:10 PM

Well said Simon. I am in total agreement.

Several years ago a critic reviewing a Cunningham performance with a couple of new co. members remarked that it seemed to take about two years of dancing the repertoire for a dancer to look at home; and of course dancers joining the co. have been studying the technique intensively for some time.
It is unreasonable to expect that a ballet co. can do justice to these works. Sadly, if the studio and co. are not to continue, I would rather not see the work at all, than diminished by unworthy performances.

#29 miliosr

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 06:16 AM

Well said Simon. I am in total agreement.


ITA as well.

#30 Nanatchka

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 09:16 PM

Cunningham has had a keen interest in video collaborations for years. James Atlas was the person he worked with for years states--on PBS--states,

I first met Merce Cunningham in 1971 and in 1974 began collaborating with him over a period of ten years making “media/dances”, works combining dance with film and video, pieces made for the camera.


So maybe the idea of his works being in a different form, being archived and licensed, and as video records, the body of them going through a true "sea change" is not such a recent one. Or maybe he doesn't quite know, and is moving towards some resolution, but nonetheless is in sly control, as people who set up trusts--at least in novels--often are.

When the great Polish director Tadeusz Kantor died, his company did a final tour, then disbanded, leaving memories of his work cleanly intact.



The filmmaker who worked with Merce is Charles Atlas.


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