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Alexandra

Merce Cunningham Season

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Anyone going?

This piece, by Jennifer Dunning, was in this past Sunday's NYTimes:

Celebrating the Vision of Merce Cunningham

For all his reputation as a master producer of impenetrably difficult modern dance, Mr. Cunningham's long voyage through the art of dance has been surprisingly simple. At heart, this journey of six decades has been a matter of "how adroitly you get one foot to the next," as he describes his notion of rhythm. "Something starts you thinking about other possibilities," Mr. Cunningham said in a recent interview at his West Village studio. "Because there always are. There always are."

That is what has kept him going. "I like dancing," he said softly. "It's very simple. Probably to most people it's absurd. But I really think dancing is wonderful. I can't do it. But I still enjoy the possibility of finding ways, finding out something else about it."

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Yes, I am going. All performances. Please, someone else go too. Everyone else! And post, post, post! BTW, the dance on the cover of Dance Magazine July issue is being performed on both programs. It's pretty fabulous. Called Loosetime.(I saw it in Berkeley.) Okay, stop me. I have to get dressed and get to the theater....xxxfrom your Merceaholic alertnik.

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Just got back.

It was a lovely performance, and not bad socially either - it seemed Le tout New York was there, and it gave a glittering energy to the affair. It's awfully nice to know that Merce can fill a theater.

Pictures, from 1984, was my favorite work of the evening. Contemplative and slow, but my attention never wandered.

The makeup of the company is ever more "balletic" - the dancers seem to have that background almost uniformly it seems now, the major exception being the most senior company member, Robert Swinston. In some ways it's gorgeous - there's a slow arm movement that every dancer does in Pictures that looks like a demi-bras position with the most gentle breath - it's lovely and almost like romantic ballet, but then Swinston enters and does the same movement - but it's a contraction when he does it. Both are interesting to me, I just don't know which is right. One, the other, both, or it depends?

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Some of that contracted style is unique to Robert Swinston, I think. He has a certain Grahamesque quality that has always served Merce well. As to a more uniform company style, I'll think about it. Off the top of my head: Arms are choreographed very tightly in Merce's newer work, and independently from rest of body. I think arms used to be more ad hoc, say, in the seventies and eighties, for instance. (Not that they changed from night to night, but that the dancers might have had more determination in their original positioning--as in do what feels right with the arms.)That's killer choreography in Loose Time. Just so hard.

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