Dancing on stilts

Dezember 20, 2017 Kommentare deaktiviert für Dancing on stilts

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Merce Cunningham…

März 26, 2017 Kommentare deaktiviert für Merce Cunningham…

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Nederlands Dans Theater

November 12, 2016 Kommentare deaktiviert für Nederlands Dans Theater

11listingsdance-jumboStudy Dutch Bodies in Motion
Nederlands Dans Theater at City Center
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Baryshnikov Push comes to Shove

Oktober 26, 2016 Kommentare deaktiviert für Baryshnikov Push comes to Shove

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‘Prodigal Son’ Is Returning to Ballet Theater

Oktober 26, 2016 Kommentare deaktiviert für ‘Prodigal Son’ Is Returning to Ballet Theater

When the Siren enters in the second scene — its sole female — she’s immediately spectacular. She runs in on point, in profile, crowned with a long purple cloak trailing behind her (see below). She’s unlike any other creature in ballet.
She announces herself with big flourishes of each leg, and ritualistic windings of her cloak about her shoulders and thighs. Everything she does amazes — the flamboyant way she parts and extends those legs! — perhaps nowhere more than when she marches on all fours (hands and points), her chest and pelvis facing the sky, with that royal cloak trailing from her neck and her thighs slicing up into the air: right, left, right. The Prodigal, as the dance world calls him, stares at her as if she’s from outer space.

“Prodigal” returns this week to American Ballet Theater repertory, with two casts; in January it returns to New York City Ballet for five performances, Jan. 17 to 29. Even if you know the 1920s silent-movie vamps made famous by Garbo and her predecessors, this Siren is a singular sensation. She flourishes her hands ceremoniously in the air, and she has a gesture where one hand slowly rises behind her crown like the fan of a cobra’s hood. (In an earlier and yet deadlier version, the hand stayed closed and pointing upward, in the shape of a snake’s head.)

When she dances with the hero, she seems to tower over him, and to take possession of him in what remains one of the most overtly sexual pas de deux ever made in ballet. She pins his pelvis to hers with one raised leg, and she clasps his head to her breast in a way that suggests she’s also the mother he’s been missing. She’s a femme fatale all right; she’s voluptuous, glamorous, but Balanchine also made her to be cold, snakelike, lethal and brutal.

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Writing a Choreography: in Cunningham’s self-styled notations

November 15, 2015 Kommentare deaktiviert für Writing a Choreography: in Cunningham’s self-styled notations



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Democracy in Action – Hommage á Merce Cunningham

November 15, 2015 Kommentare deaktiviert für Democracy in Action – Hommage á Merce Cunningham

Democracy in Action, That’s Cunningham
Published: April 19, 2007

Merce Cunningham turned 88 on Monday. In recent years he has routinely been described as the world’s greatest choreographer. This doesn’t mean, though, that he is just the oldest choreographer who has been great in the past. The dances he has made this millennium suggest, amazingly, that no choreographer alive is more concerned with continuing to extend his range. (I have heard dancers who appeared in his work from the 1950s to the ’90s speak with awe of the new complexities that have opened up in his recent work.) He is the only choreographer I can think of who has presented at least one true masterpiece — the world-conquering “Biped” (1999) — after his 80th birthday.
Jeffrey A. Salter/The New York Times

But his choreography, whose most famous (or notorious) feature is its independence from its music, is still difficult for many audiences. It’s rare to attend a performance of his work without someone walking out. Sometimes people do it in droves. When Mr. Cunningham was just 70, in 1989, I remember one New York dancegoer exclaiming, “He’s all the avant-garde we have left.” Today his work, even those time-honored dances from the 1950s and ’60s that everyone knows are historic, still feels to me far more avant-garde than that of any other artist I know, and invaluably so. I’ve never seen a Cunningham dance that hasn’t rewarded a second viewing.

New York is not the city that made him internationally famous; that was London, where his one-week debut season in 1964 took off and became a monthlong phenomenon. And New York is not (not by a long way) the city in which he is most acclaimed; that prize surely goes to Paris, where it is not unusual to be accosted for extra tickets to his performances even before reaching street level on your way out of the Métro. But it’s New York where he lives, and works, and it’s New York that has consistently inspired him.

In 1954, when he was choreographing “Minutiae” (his first dance to feature décor by Robert Rauschenberg), one of his dancers asked him, “What’s this about?” He took her to the open window, showed her the street below and said, “That!” I assume what he meant was what he has often showed onstage: three or more busy people doing different movements at the same time without bumping into one another or even referring to one another, an image of everyday democracy in action, a peaceable kingdom of diverse human beings carrying on regardless.

In his company’s studio at the Westbeth artists’ complex in the West Village, with its marvelous views over Manhattan and across the Hudson, he and colleagues are currently presenting a sporadic series of evenings titled “History Matters” for invited audiences (ranging from students to etylex-dancers and longtime aficionados), in which excerpts from older works, danced by a mixture of his company’s dancers and apprentices, are introduced and followed by panel discussions.

On Tuesday I caught a “History Matters” program covering a cross-section of five Cunningham dances from 1944 to 1960. (The intention had been to end with the 1959 “Rune,” but a dancer’s injury led, on short notice, to this being replaced, brilliantly, by a duet from the 1960 “Crises.”) The next program (no date has been announced) will focus on the 1960s.

Though none of these could have been by any other dance maker, and though all showed the clear formation of the form of dance theater he has elaborated ever since, it was startling to see how each had singular features that Mr. Cunningham seems never to have re-employed. Often what’s distinctive occurs at the basic level of dance vocabulary. One of the supreme step-makers of all time, he delights in splicing one known step onto another to come up with something unprecedented.

His 1944 solo “Totem Ancestor” shows, unforgettably, the sudden jumps from kneeling and crouched positions he found he could do in his own dance prime. (The dancer looks as if his arched-back torso is pulling him up into the air, with his feet still tucked under.) But his 1950s dances show how he applied this instinct to dances for others, sometimes grafting modern-dance features onto ballet, sometimes combining two different ballet movements into a new one.

The quintet from “Suite for Five” (1955), though characterized by steps both ebullient and elongated, is a dazzling New York street view of Cunningham coexistence. These five dancers make the peripheries of the stage as striking as its central zone or its diagonals, each of them engaged in his or her own individual vocabulary, own spiritual world, until, now and then, Mr. Cunningham brings two or three of them together suddenly in briefly Mozartian harmony, out of the blue sharing the same direction and the same step for a while, before diverging once more.

Looking at “Septet” (1953), “Suite for Five” (1955), “Summerspace” (1958) and “Crises” (1960), I see that Mr. Cunningham was already exemplifying the expressive ambiguities and non sequiturs that in spoken drama were taken up in this era by Beckett, Ionesco and Harold Pinter, then called the Theater of the Absurd. Nowhere are these more enthralling than in his dance duets.

In “Septet” the woman is statuesque, inscrutable; the man shapes, tilts, reshapes and lifts her, and yet nothing is more memorable than the moment when, supporting her hip with one hand as she balances on half-toe, he slowly kneels while looking up at her in something like awe. In “Suite for Five” the duet keeps splitting into two solos, with the woman absolutely doing her own thing, except, again, that his regard keeps telling us that she is on his mind. And in the opening duet of “Crises,” the woman is driven, wracked, convulsed but almost never concerned with the man except that he keeps coming into her orbit, tracking her. Is he trying to control her? Or to save her from herself? The mystery is part of the drama. If people ask why Mr. Cunningham is called “greatest,” they should see these duets for starters.

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Cosmos Cunningham – Democracy in Action

November 3, 2012 Kommentare deaktiviert für Cosmos Cunningham – Democracy in Action

kopie-von-kosmos-cunninghamclick on!

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