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Merce Cunningham Dance Company: The Legacy Tour

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Tonight I'll be watching this company, which I've seen widely discussed on this board, and which I'm unfamiliar with. Knowing the great knowledge of many members here on this troupe, I'd like to know anything that you might add...

Thanks in advance...! :flowers:

From the Arsht center website...

"Choreographer Merce Cunningham and visual artist Robert Rauschenberg: Two undisputed giants of American culture. See their iconoclastic work from every angle and perspective in an astonishing 360-degree event—created especially for Miami— that re-imagines their legendary mid-20th Century collaborations.

First, you'll encounter a new site-specific installation by Daniel Arsham, constructed in the theater's auditorium. Then you'll proceed on to the stage itself where, on three large multi-level sets, 14 dancers, wearing original Rauschenberg-designed costumes, perform Cunningham's dazzling choreography."

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I envy you the opportunity -- I'm not sure I'll get to see the company on this tour.

The best advice I can give you is to go without expectations, and to be willing to look anywhere at anything. More than almost anyone else I know, Cunningham's work embodies a world of polar opposites. It is highly virtuosic, and yet the performers onstage may be doing something that you yourself did when you got out of bed this morning. It is not designed to tell a story or convey a specific emotion, and yet it is tremendously evocative and will often leave me wiped out. And the most important part of the world can be right over there, and several other places as well, at the same time.

I know it can sound zenny, or odd, but I've had some of the most astonishing experiences in the theater with this work, not because of what I saw, but because of how it made me look at it.

Please do come back here and tell us what you saw.

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My advice to you is to bring ear plugs.

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thank you both, sandik and abatt...

My advice to you is to bring ear plugs.

...wow...!! :excl:

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Unfortunately, I won't be able to get down to Miami for this, though I was hoping to do so despite my trepidation about the long drive and Miami's confusing (to me) road system. Cristian, please share your impressions with us ... in detail.

Anyone else planning on attending?

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Unfortunately, I won't be able to get down to Miami for this, though I was hoping to do so despite my trepidation about the long drive and Miami's confusing (to me) road system. Cristian, please share your impressions with us ... in detail.

I certainly will, bart...! although you know me...I'm sort of reluctant about modern/contemporary dancing...but always open to watch almost everything... :thumbsup:

http://www.arshtcenter.org/tickets/calendar/view.aspx?id=8939

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That must have been quite a :speechless-smiley-003: experience, Cristian. Do you have the heart to tell us more?

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I DEFINITELY will...as soon as I'm back home.

Preview...I ALMOST demanded my money back...literally...due to a certain incident.

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:wallbash::wallbash::wallbash::wallbash::wallbash:

...but back to the real deal...

Cristian,

That's a really cheap shot. I expect better of you. One could equally argue that the "real deal" isn't stuck in a permanently moonlit glade sometime in the mid 19th century, and if dance stopped being "real" then perhaps it has no place in the modern world and Jennifer Homanns is right.

You saw a Cunningham Event, I love the Events, but equally I know Cunningham for first time viewers can be very difficult. Why not explain what you saw in full, your problems with what you saw, and instigate a discussion about dance and the wider scope of dance.

I love ballet, yet equally I love modern, Cunningham especially, but I know how alienating the work and aesthetic can be - I have no problem accepting that if there's a discussion involved and exchange of ideas, but to dismiss a body of work and revolutionary form as rich and expansive as Cunningham's on the back of one viewing and to pour scorn by comparing to Alonso in Giselle yet again is to not understand or be willing to understand that dance isn't a fixed, generic form that there isn't only one true vision and the idea that anything else is lightweight is regressive.

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:wallbash::wallbash::wallbash::wallbash:

...but back to the real deal...

Cristian,

That's a really cheap shot. I expect better of you. One could equally argue that the "real deal" isn't stuck in a permanently moonlit glade sometime in the mid 19th century, and if dance stopped being "real" then perhaps it has no place in the modern world and Jennifer Homanns is right.

You saw a Cunningham Event, I love the Events, but equally I know Cunningham for first time viewers can be very difficult. Why not explain what you saw in full, your problems with what you saw, and instigate a discussion about dance and the wider scope of dance.

I love ballet, yet equally I love modern, Cunningham especially, but I know how alienating the work and aesthetic can be - I have no problem accepting that if there's a discussion involved and exchange of ideas, but to dismiss a body of work and revolutionary form as rich and expansive as Cunningham's on the back of one viewing and to pour scorn by comparing to Alonso in Giselle yet again is to not understand or be willing to understand that dance isn't a fixed, generic form that there isn't only one true vision and the idea that anything else is lightweight is regressive.

Simon. I have no problem admitting that my real deal in dancing probably got somehow stuck in a permanent moonlight in the XIX Century, although I'm not disqualifying the XX Century at all-(I've certainly had pleasant experiences with Fokine, Balanchine and Graham's works among others). Now, if I was to pick a handful of ballet works to be saved from an imminent destruction of the world by aliens, and they were the only ones to be preserved for a future rebuilding of the art form, with no doubt I would choose those of the past century..150% positive.

About Giselle...well, that's a personal thing. Every time I get aggravated with-(to me)-senseless dance stuff, I always go back to the German tale. But that's just me...it is my antidote.

At the very end, this is, as with everything else, a matter of personal taste, of course, and as I said earlier...this is coming from a guy who loves long orthodox services and Mamie Van doren in High School Confidential... :flowers:

About that thing that I saw...I have to get back to this board later on.

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About that thing that I saw...I have to get back to this board later on.

Please do, Cristian. And you've reminded me to buy a ticket for a Cunningham performance in February.

I think I've told the story here before of the first time I saw the Cunningham company live (and he danced a limited fashion himself in one of the works), in 1993 at the American Dance festival in Durham, NC. One would expect to find a pretty experienced audience at an established summer dance festival, an audience that knew what they were in for, but as my wife likes to stay, we started out sitting in the middle of a row, and by the end we were the row.

The next time I saw the company, at the same festival, she happily accompanied me to a morning panel discussion with Merce and a couple of original company members, but skipped the performance, and for her attempt at avoiding pain ended up being dragged by her sister to Wal-Mart that evening. I like to tease her that there's a moral to that story: a little poetic justice. :FIREdevil:

Anyhow, do let us know what you thought. Some Cunningham dances I've loved from the first and watching others was like listening to challenging music. It took all my concentration, but eventually . . . you know how astronauts in training are taken up in planes that climb high at a steep trajectory, so that the passengers experience G forces, and then the plane freefalls and they experience weightlessness? When I finally "get" the choreography, that's a beautiful feeling.

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Cristian,

I think though that this is the major problem with the state of dance, and why Homanns work carries great weight in that dance can't be a static entity and claim to be universally pertinent, that great dancers alone can't carry the art forward and why choreography is the most vital component of dance, it's the voice of dance. You say you don't discount 20th century dance, well a great deal of choreography, Cunningham's especially is a 21st century happening. Retreating back to the 19th century second act of Giselle because of what we perceive to be "senseless things" is a poor response. I respect that for you that is the apogee, but likewise for me it's the death of dance. I love Giselle, don't get me wrong, but if it were to stop there then I couldn't make any kind of argument for dance to continue.

A while back you posted two video clips of Valdes and Osipova in the fouette coda of Don Q pas de deux and proclaimed that this is the glorious future of dance. I didn't respond then I wish I had, but for me those two clips if anything were a death knell for dance as an art form.

In both clips the fouettes were technical feats of speed, virtuosity, the Osipova one in particular was nothing but her showing off how fast she could do the fouettes, indeed she did the whole thing again as an encore and probably was still faster than had she stuck to the original tempo. What kind of future is there from those two examples? The only way forward is to stick the ballerina in a centrifuge. If you read Gelsey Kirkland's account of how she tried to bring a dramatic purpose to the hackneyed virtuoso feat of Kitri's fouettes from the mid 70s you can see even then she realised that as an art form ballet is dead if the virtuosity is all there is.

For me nothing is more synonymous with ballet's disintegration as an art form than the Don Q pas de deux, a lightweight ballet even in its entirety stripped of story and acts and served up as a gala fayre pas de deux for a high paying audience who couldn't give a toss about ballet as art, but want an evening of cunning stunts to justify the inlated ticket prices.

There could be no Cunningham without Graham and there could never have been Graham without Denishawn & ballet - and if there is any purpose to dance it's to be open to the new experience while keeping an open mind.

That's why I find this post depressing, because Cunningham is phenemomenally vital and the last year of this utterly miraculous company performing these works and this technique is a tragedy because there will be nothing to fill that void. Cunningham demands enough respect for what it is to be taken and assessed on that level as being the "real deal" in itself. Cunningham was aware and open to every dance form especially ballet, indeed he was a contemporary of Alonso when she was in New York as a star and he a struggling soloist.

There will always be opportunities to see Giselle indeed as long as there are galas and ballerinas the second act along with the Don Q pas de deux will continue to be performed, and each time it's taken out of context it destroys what it's actually about a little bit more - and that's probably why the Don Q PDD is so popular it can be cut out from the problematic concept of art and served up as virtuosity without any fibre of story or art and still remain intact.

But very soon it won't be possible to see Cunningham's works, tragically they'll be dead, because no one will take the time, effort, or financial burden of performing them as they should be, and when they're gone for good the world will be poorer for it. And ballerinas will continue to emote and spin in selected PDD out of context, and the dance world will be poorer and sadly no one will care or in time even remember Cunningham; but it doesn't lessen the imporatance and brilliance of who he was and what his works stood for.

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Cristian...great dancers alone can't carry the art forward and why choreography is the most vital component of dance...

...I wonder if there was even any choreography involved, or if they were just encouraged to pace, stretch, roll and seat motionless as they pleased...

Edited to add: Sorry about that. Of course I know this was a choreographic work. I was just being sarcastic. My bad.

Retreating back to the 19th century second act of Giselle because of what we perceive to be "senseless things" is a poor response.

I think it is a very valid option, for which nobody else gets hurt on the way. Others, like critics, have the advantage of writing bitter national newspaper articles, and so getting their points into thousands of people's heads. At least the "poor" aspect of my option only affects me.

I love Giselle, don't get me wrong, but if it were to stop there then I couldn't make any kind of argument for dance to continue.

I never said that ballet was to stop there. I also love Chopiniana and Theme and Variations, so I DO believe that dance has indeed continued...

A while back you posted two video clips of Valdes and Osipova in the fouette coda of Don Q pas de deux and proclaimed that this is the glorious future of dance.

I don't think that's exactly what I said. In any case, here's my OP.

I'm SO GLAD that ballerinas like Osipova and Valdes, with all that joy and fire, are rescuing ballet from its ever expanding ranged of bland/boring/soulless/generic performances...

So THANK YOU GIRLS, for all that excitement...! :clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping:

Re: The Don Quixote PDD...

... as a gala fayre pas de deux for a high paying audience who couldn't give a toss about ballet as art, but want an evening of cunning stunts to justify the inlated ticket prices.

...this is certainly a dangerously generalized statement, Simon. Could I be one of the very few audience members whose Don Quixote PDD viewing wasn't determined by the reasons listed above...?

That's why I find this post depressing, because Cunningham is phenomenally vital and the last year of this utterly miraculous company performing these works and this technique is a tragedy because there will be nothing to fill that void.

Simon, I won't argue that the ending of ANY dance company is indeed a tragedy to the art form. Now...watching several audience members leave a performance midway, quietly making fun of it-(as I witnessed)- and not even being sure to clap at the end, out of total confusion and disappointment of the entire thing...THAT is a tragedy.

Edited to add:

This is a short clip of something very close-(perhaps even the same thing...or a variation of it or both)-of what I saw...its time multiplied by 11.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBcwL8ROBAk

AND...

then...the "music", which was something like...

You can actually play both clips at the same time-(the dancing one has no sound)-so you can have a pale idea of the whole thing...

...and so back again to the real deal...

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It's interesting that you should post a clip of Fonteyn & Nureyev as both were ardent fans and supporters of Cunningham, his work and company. Nureyev, Balanchine, Baryshnikov, Kirstein all ardent admirers of Cunningham to the extent that they brought his work into the repertories of NYCB, ABT, Paris Opera.

You show me a clip of Coast Zone and ask me to see your point of view that Cunningham is senseless, banal, facile - well sorry to disappoint, I see Coast Zone and I feel passion, admiration, choreographic genius because let me tell you, as much as you like to rubbish Cunningham on one viewing the technique, the choreography isn't easy, it's brutally difficult to execute. The choreographic patters and ethos is rigourous, the product of a genius - the theories and practice of chance procedure one of the defining artistic movements of the 20th & 21 st centuries. The triumverate of Cunningham, Cage & Rauschenberg's theory on design, art, music, choreography, theatre impact on every aspect of modern theatre and art to this day. And this is the problem I have with the attitude of dismissing out of hand that you take, you don't understand, you have no desire to understand or explore further, and that's fine, it's your pregroagtive absolutely - but by the same token to dismiss entirely something that so clearly isn't worthless is just crass.

Because this is the thing. The life and achievements of Cunningham demand respect, they're irrefutable. And if someone doesn't like it, or hates it, fine - but it's not fine to conclude that because one doesn't like it there must be nothing there.

I don't care if people walked out, I've been watching Cunningham for years people have always walked out, they've been walking out on Cunningham for 57 years, does that make them right? No, it makes the work not for them, fair enough but when the walkers dismiss it as worthless, then all I can say is they're wrong. Just as I would be wrong to dismiss the clip of Alonso as a deluded elderly blind woman in a tutu kidding herself that she's a fifteen year old virgin's ghost.

I regularly make myself sit through stuff I hate, Wayne Mcgregor, I hate his stuff, but I've seen every show he's done in the UK, both for the RB & his own company and while I can't like it, I likewise can't dismiss it entirely. I've made the attempt to appreciate his work his choreographic style.

Likewise with the Osipova & Valdes, I don't deny they are fabulous technicians, top flight dancers, but the Don Q Pdd depresses me because it's indicative so much of the modern approach to the classics a kind of technical revisionism where every aspect is reinvented with a hitherto unparalled technical brillo, because that's what the punters may pay for. Like I said where else is there to go now except to put the ballerina in a centrifuge and have her fouette at Mach 1?

I don't think we can talk about Cunningham because you show me the Coast Zone and I see something that just thrills me to bits, but you see a crushing bore, likewise while I haven't always loved or even liked Cunningham's music collaborations (and make no mistake there have been some beautiful ones, and some ear bleeders) I always accepted this is what I signed up for, made an attempt to familiarise myself with the composer before or after, especially if I had problems with the music.

And Cristian that's absolutely right for you, and you're right for you. But it doesn't make it right or a fair or measured response to Cunningham and his work. Which is why I got so irritated, Alonso in Giselle is the "real deal" for Giselle, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company is the "real deal" for modern dance, and both in their own ways are the real deal for dance as a whole. There's enough room within the shrinking, underfunded world of dance for both to co-exist without detracting from one another.

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Cunningham is definitely not to everyone's taste. I usually enjoy the dancers, but I generally find the background noice/sound used by Cunningham intolerable. (Hence my suggestion to Chrisitian to bring ear plugs.) My favorite Cunningham work is Biped, and I hope it comes to New York before the troupe disbands.

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Cunningham is definitely not to everyone's taste. I usually enjoy the dancers, but I generally find the background noice/sound used by Cunningham intolerable. (Hence my suggestion to Chrisitian to bring ear plugs.) My favorite Cunningham work is Biped, and I hope it comes to New York before the troupe disbands.

Abatt,

Here we go it's the complete schedule for the company until its closure:

http://www.merce.org/legacy-tour/documents/LegacyTourScheduleOct2010-1.pdf

You're in luck, Biped will be on at BAM next December. It'll also be in Chicago, Tucson and Moscow it you'd like to double it up with a trip to the Bolshoi.

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Abatt,

Here we go it's the complete schedule for the company until its closure:

http://www.merce.org/legacy-tour/documents/LegacyTourScheduleOct2010-1.pdf

You're in luck, Biped will be on at BAM next December. It'll also be in Chicago, Tucson and Moscow it you'd like to double it up with a trip to the Bolshoi.

Thanks Simon G. I will certainly see it at BAM. Wish I could go to Moscow, but it's out of the question financially.

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It's interesting that you should post a clip of Fonteyn & Nureyev as both were ardent fans and supporters of Cunningham, his work and company. Nureyev, Balanchine, Baryshnikov, Kirstein all ardent admirers of Cunningham to the extent that they brought his work into the repertories of NYCB, ABT, Paris Opera.

Simon, I feel the need to reinforce that, as with everything else in life, when I speak, write or share my experiences on something, it should be perfectly clear that this is just me, talking about my perception and how the work adjusts or not to my own guidelines. About the other handful of millions of viewers-(including of course you, Fonteyn and Nureyev)-I don't have the right, nor the desire to speak about. That's why I always try to use the "I perceived", "I felt" and the like, instead of trying to build the criticism against the body of work itself, which I'm perfectly conscious that I'm not prepared for, nor that I'm interested to. I don't argue that what I saw is not the product of a genious...I'm saying that it was unbearable TO ME. But...what's the harm on that, if for each person who hates the thing there are millions who love it...? If the work is good, it will be passed on and alive way after me and my criticism are both long forgotten.

You show me a clip of Coast Zone and ask me to see your point of view that Cunningham is senseless, banal, facile - well sorry to disappoint, I see Coast Zone and I feel passion, admiration, choreographic genius because let me tell you, as much as you like to rubbish Cunningham on one viewing the technique, the choreography isn't easy, it's brutally difficult to execute.

Agree with that, but after I have admitted that the movement is difficult and brutal...what's left for me...? Exactly nothing, as in with Valdes and Osipova for you after their difficult, brutally executed fouettes. As you just said...you can't isolate the fragment and speak for the whole thing based on it.

Because this is the thing. The life and achievements of Cunningham demand respect, they're irrefutable. And if someone doesn't like it, or hates it, fine - but it's not fine to conclude that because one doesn't like it there must be nothing there.

...again, Simon...there's nothing there for me.

I don't care if people walked out, I've been watching Cunningham for years people have always walked out, they've been walking out on Cunningham for 57 years, does that make them right? No, it makes the work not for them, fair enough but when the walkers dismiss it as worthless, then all I can say is they're wrong. Just as I would be wrong to dismiss the clip of Alonso as a deluded elderly blind woman in a tutu kidding herself that she's a fifteen year old virgin's ghost.

Fine with that, but a little clarification. I believe that I've read lots of criticism of exactly that point on Alonso right on this board, by very knowledgeable people whose understanding of ballet is way wider than mine. Have I ever say "you're wrong...?" No, because THEY'RE NOT! This is THEIR truth, which doesn't mean that it is THE truth. It is worth to me to express it, discuss it and then try and expose the reasons to why I DON'T share that truth, but it would never occurred to me just to plainly state that...

...they're wrong

And BTW...about aging dancers "kidding themselves"...well, we could be building a never ending list of both ballerinas and bailarines that would include several-(and great)-Soviet,Italians,French and British exceptional, lovely Giselles/Auroras-(no need to tell their names...we both know them), but also, great modern dance exponents, even that of Cunningham's mentor. Thank God to the fact that they were "kidding themselves", so that many generations had the option either to ignore them or to go and see if there was still something worth in their live performances...

Edited to add: Isn't Misha still out there "kidding himself"...?

I regularly make myself sit through stuff I hate, Wayne McGregor, I hate his stuff, but I've seen every show he's done in the UK, both for the RB & his own company and while I can't like it, I likewise can't dismiss it entirely. I've made the attempt to appreciate his work his choreographic style.

And I do that too, Simon..! That's exactly why I went to see it, and why I go to see the Alvin Ailey company every time they come-(which I loved since the first time I went)...including their upcoming presentation...

The point is simple..the more I know about what I don't like, the more I appreciate and reinforce my truth about what I like.

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It's interesting that you should post a clip of Fonteyn & Nureyev as both were ardent fans and supporters of Cunningham, his work and company. Nureyev, Balanchine, Baryshnikov, Kirstein all ardent admirers of Cunningham to the extent that they brought his work into the repertories of NYCB, ABT, Paris Opera.

It's not really important, though, whether dancers or other artists you admire do themselves admire other artists that one doesn't admire. Not that you meant that, but I think it's an important point. I don't like everything Balanchine likes, and don't care what he would think of that. Same with writers like Mailer, Didion, DeLillo, dancers like Suzanne Farrell, Nureyev, McBride, Hubbe, musicians like Boulez, Britten, etc. I do think it's also important to realize that most of those people who have a name in a given profession usually don't speak against others who have one (as it would seem natural to me for Stephen Sondheim to say something about Andrew Lloyd Webber, but he shies away from that, I don't know if he's said anything about Alan Mencken.) Film stars usually don't mention rivals in their fields, unless they're 'in a number' like Shirley MacLaine was with her decade + of Reincarnation Talk, and she'd say things in Vanity Fair like 'I talked to Goldie about it [Meryl Streep's acting] and she thinks it's channelling', which is one of the most hilarious things I ever read. Two Malibu gals sittin' around evaluating the competitiion.

Just as I would be wrong to dismiss the clip of Alonso as a deluded elderly blind woman in a tutu kidding herself that she's a fifteen year old virgin's ghost.

That's a Zizekian technique, I have nothing against it, but one is quite explicit about how one does NOT see something (so that one is stuck pondering it, as when Zizek claims he sides with Chavez, and then says 'well, you know, he is considered a clown'.) That's cool, though.

I regularly make myself sit through stuff I hate, Wayne Mcgregor, I hate his stuff, but I've seen every show he's done in the UK, both for the RB & his own company and while I can't like it, I likewise can't dismiss it entirely. I've made the attempt to appreciate his work his choreographic style.

Well, this does make you more knowledgeable, maybe even professional (or professional-level), although I'm not going to do it for someone's work I know I dislike. I haven't ever seen Cunningham's work, although I'm not sure why, didn't know enough about it, other things got in the way, I might see it at aome point, but not at BAM this year. I've seen Alvin Ailey's company only once, and I wouldn't pay for it again, because I thought the program was awful, even though I doubt that other programs would be. Still, I got a taste of what the company was, and I don't have any practical reason to inform myself perfectly on the Ailey company. Although I would say your ability to be so exhaustive about dance you dislike to the point of even 'hating' is admirable. Most, like me, aren't going to do it.

Likewise with the Osipova & Valdes, I don't deny they are fabulous technicians, top flight dancers, but the Don Q Pdd depresses me because it's indicative so much of the modern approach to the classics a kind of technical revisionism where every aspect is reinvented with a hitherto unparalled technical brillo, because that's what the punters may pay for. Like I said where else is there to go now except to put the ballerina in a centrifuge and have her fouette at Mach 1?

Well, I'm going to see Osipova's virtuosity because I just want to, but not in 'Don Q', which bores me no matter how good the dancers. 'Coppellia' and SB will be just fine.

The triumverate of Cunningham, Cage & Rauschenberg's theory on design, art, music, choreography, theatre impact on every aspect of modern theatre and art to this day.

I can't really argue with this, as it's probably true, just that it may be exaggerated. Cage is important, but musically he is not so important IMO as Boulez, Stockhausen, or even Britten, but he was something of a real pioneer. As far as wanting to take most of his pieces individually, I don't care to listen to them. Give me 'Le Marteau sans Maitre' over anything of Cage any day. But you may be speaking of influences in 'art' and 'theater' in the sense of Brecht, but in a particular school and style and also the use of 'theory' of this 'triumvirate' may mean a particular branch of theater more than a universal influence on all theater (which it may have done, but not only they.) Would be interested in hearing about this.

Edited to add: I will watch 'The Coast' later. That I definitely can do, and am jus pressed for time, but can probably do it later today.

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Actually I thought the clip of “The Coast [Zone]” Cristian has posted was lovely - and I’ve had difficulties with the length and sometimes atomized structures of Merce’s pieces. I think Elizabeth Bishop says if only her students would leave out the last stanza they’d be much stronger, and I’ve remembered thinking with this or that Cunningham’s piece, if it ended right now, it would be perfect, it would be a thing complete in itself. But “The Coast Zone” had some nice matching of shapes with shapes and a nice caesura or two to anchor those.

I do have a problem with “Les Sylphides/Chopiniana" as an advance in ballet, being a little sickly sweet, though the figures and the development of the corp-al lines are beautiful. It may be that the Glazunov orchestration denatures Chopin’s pieces, their architectures and faceting more at home on the hard keys of the piano. Alexandra Danilova says that already by the twenties Fokine was out of date, that for her and Balanchine and the people of the Young Ballet, Fokine was the past, the clean lines of Apollo and rhythms were the kinds of things they were looking forward to.

Would Diaghilev have brought Cunningham to the Ballets Russes along with Rauchenberg and Johns? - He probably would have, just as he had with "Pas d’Icier"/"Steel Step" and its hard and incessant Prokofiev score, in order to catch up with the latest thing the Soviets were doing. As he had with Balanchine who was bringing with him the latest from Meyerhold and Goleizovsky. And as Diaghilev almost did with Alejo Carpentier who was bringing modernist Cuban ballet pieces to Paris - but too late - and who would in turn take “La Consagracion de la Primavera” back to Havana with him.

Regarding "Don Quixote" (rechoreographed and lightened I believe in 1910 or so) - it's a sidebar to the real thing and Don Quixote himself has been downgraded to a minor character - and so it's not a bad thing to excerpt, just as you would an opera aria here and there, as Schwarzkopf or Lucia Popp would do.

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Just as I would be wrong to dismiss the clip of Alonso as a deluded elderly blind woman in a tutu kidding herself that she's a fifteen year old virgin's ghost.

Well Simon...with all respect-(and correct me if I'm wrong)-, but I sense that by referring to a "deluded", "elderly"-(45 years old at the time), "blind"-(although in my humble opinion that particular item wasn't an issue at the time of the clip, but again...that's a personal perception)-and "kidding herself" woman about her character portray, well...it certainly sounds to me not only as if you just have completely dismissed both the dancer and the clip, but also as if the bitter attack on the dancer's personal appearance/age/physical dissabily/mental state goes beyond the mere artistic criticism...

So I guess that, according to your own stated words, that makes you wrong...?

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"Because this is the thing. The life and achievements of Cunningham demand respect, they're irrefutable."

Simon G. wrote that above. I must say it's how I feel about Cunningham. I have no problem with someone disliking it or deciding once is enough. To speak of nothing else: I can't afford the money it would to take to 'educate' myself about all kinds of dance I don't like!--but I think Cunningham is not to be casually dismissed and especially now, when we are essentially on the verge of losing most if not all of his incredible legacy.

What harm does it do just to express how one feels? Especially on a message board? Isn't that what we are all doing? Well, honestly I agree here with Cubanmiamiboy--not much harm and we are all doing it. But it's also true that that for those of us who feel strongly about dance it's hard to sit 'quietly' at our computers and see such a flat out 'dis' of Cunningham on a serious dance discussion board without offering some kind of response. Especially when it does not come with much further explanation other than the Coast Zone clip which...uh...seems very nice to me and probably would to most admirers of Cunningham.

P.S. There is more to Osipova than virtuosity: I am convinced of it. Whether her career, with its 'guest artist' appearances, will encourage her to develop that 'more'(?)...I'm hopeful but not certain. (Valdes I only saw once live in a Don Q excerpt: not enough for me to judge much beyond virtuosity, but that was very impressive, especially the balances.)

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...it's hard to sit 'quietly' at our computers and see such a flat out 'dis' of Cunningham on a serious dance discussion board without offering some kind of response.

...it is just about how this response is formulated. I've read innumerable criticisms on this board about Giselle, Chopiniana, Grand Pas de Quatre and the like, with such open, fearless epithets that would put my OP into shame. They're all valid, for which this is EVERYONE'S PERSONAL TASTE. Then there aare other types of defense...some of which I definitely put aside, as they don't offer too much of a valid reasoning...

I will now say what I never said originally. When me and my mother got into the theater, we were told that the auditorium wasn't going to be used, so we had to go up on the stage, where all backdrops had been removed and no seats were in sight. Soon enough we were informed via speakers that "seating is PROHIBITED during the entire performance, and that the audience is encouraged to walk around the performers while the dancing is going on..."

I immediately asked to speak to someone in charge, and demanded a seat for my mother. I was told that that would not be possible, for which it would go "against the concept and wish of the AD". I then said that I had read the whole reference page on the website and that nothing of that had been posted. I also said that I had paid already for both of us, and so he had two options...either he would provide me with a chair for my mom, who had a knee replacement, or the theater would had to give me my money back. He disappeared and later on came back with a chair for her which he reluctantly placed in a corner, far from the performers with a totally blocked view by the standing viewers. Some time after the performance started, I was back with her, for which I had already had enough of it and was bored to death. We saw an elderly couple trying to understand this situation, and then leaving giving their incapacity to stand up for 45 minutes. An elderly guy in front of us couldn't keep on and started to go down the floor in all fours, and had to be helped for which he almost fell off, and then they couldn't even get him up. The whole thing was embarrassing, and comments about it were heard all over once the audience was leaving the auditorium.

Thank God I had the power and right to speak out and demand some reasoning. I have too many bad memories of being prohibited to seat when I was a teen and certain political figure came over to my town and gave a 4 hours speech to which we all students were forced to attend... :mad:

So forget about the ear plugs and just make sure that you and your companion are physically able to seat on the floor and also that you wear something comfortable that makes this possible.

Now, it is officially done. I take my final bows. Au revoir!. :bow:

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Cristian,

You know that I don't think that about Alonso, and wouldn't, like Cunningham her life's work, body of achievements, longevity, phenomenal artistry and indeed the near miraculous way she overcame her blindess demand respect. And yes they exist along with the negatives, of which there are many, but in approaching Alonso on any critical level you cannot deny her massive contribution to the world of ballet and dance.

But the nerve I hit with you, is the nerve you hit - and why I would argue with both you and Patrick and would continue to do so, that whatever one's personal view of Cunningham and his work, the personal is absolutely right for the individual, but in the face of his achievements and contribution to write it off as "senseless dance" and not the "real deal" without a caveat, is absolutely wrong.

You went and saw an Event. I love, love, love the Cunningham Events, but they are not perhaps the best introduction to Cunningham for the novice viewer. Patrick asked about my statement about Cunningham's catholic contribution to theatre and performance and the Events are one such where chance and fate required a change of plans in in doing so Cunningham opened up a whole new experience in theatrical presentation. In Vienna in 1964 the company was hired to present their work at the Museum of the 20th Century: on arriving there they saw there was no theatre, no performance space which could double or serve as a proscenium arch space or even end on theatre, so they took the radical step of turning the whole space into the performance space, of having the audience intermingle with the action and instead of performing the pieces in their entirety taking sections from several works and having those sections performed in different spaces.

Over the subsequent 46 years the Events each numbered, have become a tradition in the Cunningham cannon, and are very different from his presentations of his complete pieces in traditional sit-down theatres. Patrick questioned Cunningham's influence on the wider realm of theatre and the Event is one of Cunningham's most radical innovations, impacting on how theatre and dance theatre can be and is performed.

When you go to an Event, you're not going to a traditional dance event, some of my favourite Cunningham experiences ever have been the Events, especially his 2003 Event in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern in London. I'm sorry Cristian that you had such a bad experience and expected to sit, but Events are what you pay for. Indeed the worst ones I've seen were at the Barbican Theatre in 2005 when Dance Umbrella wanting to bring Cunningham over for the Summer were very lazy in programming a series of Events in a prosc arch theatre - the effect was diminshed.

An Event is like a moving art gallery, and I would say to a novice that going to a more traditional Cunningham evening of work is maybe a better bet. Abatt mentioned Biped which with it's lush digital imagery projected on a scrim and very conventional Gavan Bryers score is a nice introduction to Cunningham.

The thing is though you saw one aspect of Cunningham and judge the whole by it, and that aspect you didn't like. Fine. But then there's a body of work stretching back sixty years and a body of art, design, music it's too huge a cannon of work to judge on one viewing.

One of my favourites is Roaratorio, with its epic Cage soundtrack, which is evocative, heartbreaking, incredibly beautiful, Cunningham's late work with danceforms computer software, and the epic late works such as Fluid Canvas, CRWDSPCR, Biped, Split Sides etc I love his pure dance works from the 80s such as Fabrications, Native Green, Trackers and those wonderful classic works from the fifties and sixties such as Crises, Rainforest, Scramble - Cunningham and the thought of that work just fills me with such excitement and happiness, when you look at that phenomenal body of work, the evolution of the work over almost seven decades and the poverty he worked under for the majority of his dance and creative life - it's awe inspiring.

I think the reason why I have such a problem with your summation is not because it's how you felt, I fully appreciate and accept that, but it's a bit like hearing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and then writing off the entire works of Mozart based on that one fleeting example.

And I'm not saying I don't have problems with some of Cunningham's work - the last works from the final years Views On Stage, Nearly Ninety have not been entirely happy experiences for me, and especially Xover, which i have to say I hated. It appeared to me as if a very talented choreographer with no ideas of his own had ripped off and plagerised a Cunningham work, except it was a Cunningham work. Nearly Ninety I had to see twice in order to appreciate the choreography, some of the best from Cunningham I've ever seen - the problem with Nearly Ninety was the design and awful Cheesy Sonic Youth music. I've never seen a Cunningham work where the stage and costume's did their best to destroy the work and the music sounded like a dodgy Pink Floyd knock off concept album from the seventies. It's a pity because like I said the choreography was some of the richest I've seen in years.

You said it's a tragedy when any dance company closes and I agree, but this isn't just any company it's the Cunningham Company and when it closes something vital is going to be lost from the cultural landscape of humanity and I don't think it's loss will be truly felt till it's gone. Through his life Cunningham saw the greats diminish to nothing, the Graham Company, once the most powerful in the world, is now a risible shadow, you wouldn't know what Graham was what she stood for, Limon, Humphreys etc and I guess he didn't want his company to turn into that - a pale echo which once performed in Opera houses going through the motions in school gymnasiums. I also think that's why he kept creating new works year in year out, he knew the only way the company kept its place was if the "living God" came up with the goods and at the end of every performance was wheeled out to be worshipped.

It's also sad that it's disappearing as the present company which I had problems with as dancers on the last viewing at Barbican last October looked finally to be a cohesive company and danced better than I've ever seen them. Julie Cunningham is still in a league of her own and reminds me of that great company of dancers from the late 90s and early 00s, when every dancer had a big personality. But what they've lost in individual flair, they've gained in homogeny of technique and slickness. I have to say the men do look like a a technically competent unit.

If the Event was not to your liking and indeed with an Event you are taking pot luck as to music, performance space etc then I suggest you try an evening of Cunningham works in a traditional sit down theatre. Check out the link as to the full final schedule. Biped is a good bet as is Split Sides and both have very lovely music. I would also suggest reading up on Cunningham and his use of chance procedures to fully understand what it's all about. The best books are:

Chance & Circumstance: 20 years with Cage and Cunningham - Carolyn Brown

Merce Cunningham: Fifty Years. Chronicle and Commentary by David Vaughn.

Or go to the website www.merce.org and maybe get a DVD of Split Sides, or A Lifetime in Dance or the Cunningham technique videos to fully appreciate what it's all about.

But whatever you do, please do give Cunningham and the ferociously difficult technique another chance. It's the last chance to do so, it truly is worth giving it a second go, this is the last chance.

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