Dance review: Merce Cunningham

Jerusalem Theater, June 6th

June 12, 2011 21:46
1 minute read.
Merce Cunningham Dance Company

Merce Cunningham Dance Company311. (photo credit: courtesy)


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It was almost possible to feel the slight breeze made by fluttering wings of history at the Jerusalem Theater, where the Merce Cunningham Dance Company took the stage as part of their Legacy Tour.

Cunningham, who died almost two years ago, was the only artist who provided funding for the two-year global farewell tour, which will end in December 2011. In addition, he provided a means for career shifts for the company members and left detailed instructions to ensure preservation of his work for future generations.

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Split Sides (2003) is a well polished example of his ‘Chance’ theory, which he toyed with for over five decades. Five dignitaries, including the festival’s director, came on stage to toss the dice, used to decide the order in which the dance sections, lighting, set décor, music or costumes will be used.

In contrast to the choreography of Cunningham’s contemporaries, the dancers’ moves are far from natural or mundane; they are highly stylized, never improvised, and rather strict and contrived, as if they were devised by the choreographic software which Cunningham investigated for a long time. It certainly broadened his movement options and serves a rather interesting as an example of his frame-by frame thinking process.

Actually, the second, much earlier piece  Sounddance (1975) was less monolithic, making it even more interesting in terms of compositional forms and humanistic flare. Sounddance successfully brought forward the more spirited face of the company.

Meeting for the last time with the wonderful dancers, all personally trained by Cunningham, was a unique, once in a lifetime experience. By remaining true to this vision, Cunningham has left an indelible mark upon the world of contemporary dance.

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