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 Post subject: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2004 3:56 am 
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<img src="http://www.ballet-dance.com/200409/imagegallery/images/image06.jpg" alt="" />

WHO: MERCE CUNNINGHAM DANCE COMPANY
WHAT: SPLIT SIDES / HOW TO PASS, KICK, FALL AND RUN / GROUND LEVEL OVERLAY
WHEN: TUE 5 – SAT 9 OCT
WHERE: BARBICAN THEATRE
TICKETS: 020 7638 8891

The Merce Cunningham Dance Company opens Dance Umbrella 2004 with the UK premiere of the company’s highly anticipated new work alongside two past favourites. In Split Sides the dance legend collaborates with cutting-edge rock bands Radiohead and Sigur Rós. The course of every unique evening is determined by the roll of a dice. With two choices each of choreography, music, costume, design and lighting, there are 32 different possible outcomes for each performance. The sets are designed by Turner Prize nominee Catherine Yass and Robert Heishman, costume design is by James Hall and lighting design by James F. Ingalls.

How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run is a key Cunningham piece, reflecting the choreographer’s challenge to conventional dance movements. As eight dancers perform centre stage, Cunningham appears together with David Vaughan, reading short stories by John Cage. Each story is told within one minute, regardless of its written length. Cunningham’s fascination with complex movement, inspired by the DanceForms computer programme, formed the basis of Ground Level Overlay, in which the dancers evoke a lyrical jungle - a view of modern urban life.


"Rolling the dice gives a moment of wonder, the imagination conjuring. A split-second later, the dice at rest, the mind becomes active. Take a chance"
Merce Cunningham

<small>[ 29 September 2004, 08:00 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2004 6:19 am 
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Quote:
The music of chance

by ISMENE BROWN
the Daily Telegraph

Merce Cunningham's brain must be an extraordinary sight under a scan. For more than 50 years the American choreographer has clung to the opposite of the notion that inspires all civilisation:...

Split Sides, which has its British première at London's Barbican next month, flamboyantly declares Cunningham's love of chance.
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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2004 2:30 am 
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Location: UK
I saw Merce Cunningham perform live with John Cage in New York in the early 1990s before Cage’s death in 1992. At the time, I was very new to dance forms outside the populist Broadway musicals and the odd Nutcracker and Giselle. But having completed my first year at university, I had read all about the Cunningham/Cage collaborations and in theory it sounded absolutely radical - my personal favourite being Cage’s 4’33 and Cunningham’s chance theories. I also found Cage’s mushroom hobby endearing. I was so excited to see these guys in action.

I loved the way the dancers performed and the movement vocabulary was very intriguing, the best part of the show was watching Cunningham come on stage to perform a small cameo. But in general I found the work incredibly difficult to engage with. I came away feeling bad that actually, for the most part, it was really boring. I felt even worse that my most ‘poshest’ friend, an architecture student, practically fell asleep and never accepted another ‘modern dance’ invite from me again. Were we philistines? Probably. In retrospect, I wish that I had known that one needed a passport stamped ‘elite’ before daring to walk through the theatre doors.

Having said that, I find it interesting that Cunningham is recruiting the likes of Radiohead for Split Sides. Does anybody think that this is an attempt to tempt the masses?


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2004 7:45 am 
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Location: Italy and UK
Possibly so, Christine, I love Radiohead and I have never seen Cunningham live, so I am quite excited about this unusual match even though I do not see Radiohead's music as widely widely popular. I see them more at a quite visible cutting edge frontier, maybe Cunningham is trying to get that slice of the public devoted to this kind of music to go and see a dance perfromance, or maybe he just likes their music, mah...what do you think?

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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 6:54 am 
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Quote:
The dice man rolls into town

by ED CAESAR
the Independent

...there are 32 possible combinations of costumes, lighting, choreography, music and decor. Even in rehearsals, the company has yet to cover them all.
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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 6:57 am 
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Quote:
The innovative lord of the dance

by ALASTAIR MACAULAY
the Financial Times

I have been watching his company for 25 years, from San Francisco and St Louis to Antwerp and Venice. I have also interviewed him a number of times. Most recently, I met him in July, when he was watching students rehearsing his 1983 dance Inlets 2. He is unfailingly courteous, intelligent, and he always says plenty about the compositional process.
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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 11:45 pm 
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Quick thoughts - October 5th

Merce returned in triumph to The Barbican last night. After the rolling of the dice by luminaries from the UK dance world to decide the combinations to be used in the second half piece, Merce and David Vaughen settled down to reading John Cage's very short stories. These form the accompaniment to the playful "How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run", which was as much fun as ever.

The second half brought a new piece, "Split Sides" with pairs of choreographic sections, scores, costumes, sets and lighting cues with the combination decided by that earlier dice rolling - one of 32 possible combinations. There was much beautiful dance in large groups, duets and a gorgeous solo for a male dancer to minimalist pop music and abstract expressionistic patterned costumes. An uplifting experience, which shows that Cunningham remains a choregraphic power house.

The alternate programme from Friday features "Split Sides" with "Ground Level Overlay", another beautiful, abstract work accompanied by trombones recorded in a huge, empty underground reservoir. It was performed here a few years ago by Rambert.

<small>[ 06 October 2004, 01:53 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2004 1:39 pm 
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Quote:
Merce Cunningham

by JUDITH MACKRELL
the Guardian

Radiohead's favoured mix of vocal babble and static acquires an urgent, urban resonance when it backs Cunningham's most densely angled moves. Later when it morphs into a section of quiet drones, it builds to a rhapsodic intensity as two dancers tilt through a duet so intimate and spacious it's as if they're dancing alone on the roof of the world.
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Quote:
Split Sides Barbican Theatre, London

by CLEMENT CRISP
the Financial Times

Fortunately for audiences, they have but to watch to be convinced that this is dance, complex yet logical, devoid of ulterior motives, dance as clearest nourishment for eye and intellect.
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Quote:
Split Sides, Barbican, London

by ZOE ANDERSON
the Independent

The mood is as mercurial as the steps. In one duet, Holley Farmer and Daniel Squire move with marionette quickness - their fast feet and tilted bodies have a staccato force. Then the dance slows, and a whole emotional landscape changes with it.
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Quote:
The old master is on a roll

by ISMENE BROWN
the Daily Telegraph

Did I imagine it, or do the younger dancers smooth away awkwardness too easily? I prefer the on-the-edge quality of veteran Robert Swinston, whose wiry body elucidates every odd facet-cut.
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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2004 2:16 pm 
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Merce Cunningham
By Debra Craine for The Times


MERCE CUNNINGHAM has spent his creative life in thrall to chance, allowing the throw of the dice or the I Ching to determine the shape and order of his choreography. He has also removed dance from the influence of music and design, which are created separately and meet his choreography only at the dress rehearsal. But at the grand old age of 85 he shows us the most glamorously audacious chance of all, Split Sides.

For this extraordinary project, which was co-commissioned by the Barbican and opened London’s Dance Umbrella festival on Tuesday, Cunningham asked two of pop’s most avant-garde groups, Radiohead and Sigur Rós, to write musical scores.

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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 12:12 am 
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Quote:
Rock and roll

by JANN PARRY
the Observer

After 20 minutes came a change of set, costumes and sounds. Some of Sigur Ros's invented instruments were played live by three musicians in the pit, including a marimba made of miked toe shoes. Score and choreography now seemed hand-crafted instead of computer-driven.
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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 9:04 am 
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Live and let die
The Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s Split Sides adopts a novel performance method, and the gamble pays off, says David Dougill for The Sunday Times:


Imagine watching a dance piece 32 times and finding it different on every occasion. In theory, that could happen with Split Sides, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s latest production, which had its London premiere for Dance Umbrella at the Barbican on Tuesday. Created in New York last year for the company’s 50th anniversary, Split Sides comprises two 20-minute sections of choreography, two musical scores — commissioned from the rock bands Radiohead and Sigur Ros — two decors, two sets of costumes and two different lighting plots. Which of each pair is used is determined by throws of a dice before each performance.

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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 11:09 pm 
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Quote:
That Merce... he always was a bit of a chancer

by JENNY GILBERT
the Independent

On Tuesday (but not Wednesday or Thursday), Catherine Yass's decor - ice-blue daubs resembling glass tower blocks seen through rain - lent a gentle luminosity to the stage where the 14 dancers, dressed in James Hall's batik catsuits, pursued the glorious dance illogic of Cunningham's steps to Radiohead's mantra-like melodies and overlapped samplings. After 20 minutes exactly, the scene dovetailed into a very different look and soundworld: Robert Heishman's jungly monochrome of collapsing metal structures in an aural wonderland of tinkling bells and clackety clockwork, resembling nothing so much as the noise of a fairy toyshop.
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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 3:38 am 
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On saturday there was yet another combination (will report it shortly), it was really exciting to watch Cunningham explain the 'rules of the game' and listen to his warm-toned voice, he gradually unfolded the world/s of chance in front of a completely absorbed audience....

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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 10:35 am 
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Elizabeth Schwyzer posted 14 October 2004 11:10 AM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Merce Cunningham Dance Company
"Ground Level Overlay" and "Split Sides"

Barbican Theatre, London
October 8, 2004

By Elizabeth Schwyzer

It’s no secret that Merce Cunningham has a lifelong fascination with chance. He’s famous for creating dances without the influence of music, allowing dancers to hear a score only shortly before going on stage, so that the coming-together of various elements of a performance holds the mystery of the unknown not only for the audience, but also for the artists. What’s incredible is that fifty years after he first began making work, Cunningham continues to push the boundaries of chance occurrence in his search for new possibilities.

In Split Sides (2003), he takes the game of chance to a new extreme. As the title suggests, there are two sections to the piece, as well as two versions of each element of the performance (the choreography, the costumes, the set, and the lighting). Both versions are used in every performance, but the order in which they are used is determined by a roll of the dice, making for 32 possible versions.

Far from jealously guarding his choreographic secrets, Merce actually opens the evening’s performance with an onstage explanation of the process, followed by the rolling of the dice to determine the order and version of Split Sides for the evening. Upstage, behind the men determining their fate, the dancers stretch, lunge, and jog in place. Maybe it’s a bit of a facile reminder that they don’t know exactly what they’ll be performing (yeah yeah, we know already), but it serves its purpose: it lets the audience in on the experiment, giving us permission to look with fresh eyes at a brand new piece of work, and to draw our own conclusions.

The programme opens with Ground Level Overlay, a piece that at less than a decade old has become a signature work in the company’s repertoire. Influenced, like much of Cunningham’s work, by the computer programme DanceForms, the piece contrasts earthy, natural themes with startlingly inhuman, mechanistic movement. The vine-like backdrop resembles seaweed, but at closer inspection contains rubber tyres—strange fruits hanging in the foliage. In dark costumes the dancers flock like pigeons, and float like dust motes. Their outstretched arms become the wingspans of huge grey gulls, glorious in their unthinking movement. And then they twist and slash and cut through space with such severity, they’re more alien than organic.
Stuart Dempster’s musical score uses the extraordinary recording of ten trombones playing in an underground water tank. Warm brass notes sound, bounce and reverberate before being layered by live musical additions, including the sounds of a dijeridoo and a conch.

Friday night’s version of Split Sides begins with sudden, harsh lighting on bright, splotchy bodies, framed by the photographic set of 19-year-old Robert Heishman, and set to the music of Icelandic electronic band Sigur Ros. The combined effect is a wash of sound, light and colour, suddenly resolving into moments of synchronicity—as when the dancers’ twisting spines correspond to the cranking noise of paper music boxes, making them look like leggy clockwork dolls.

The change of set from black-and-white to colour and of costume from colour to black-and-white delineates the beginning of the second half. The transition from Sigur Ros into Radiohead’s experimental score is less obvious, especially for those expecting anything like the band’s familiar sound. Distorted human voices are mixed with pixellated jabs of noise. As in the first half, the combined effect is a dance between surreal landscape and fleeting portrait. When one dancer’s arm shoots from its socket on the beat of a watery boing, I find myself grinning with unexpected pleasure. And the best part is, that pleasure feels private. It wasn’t choreographed; it was allowed to occur. Maybe nobody else even noticed.

--------------------
Elizabeth Schwyzer
Dancer and Dance Writer
e.schwyzer@gmail.com


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 Post subject: Re: Merce Cunningham Dance Company: 5-7 Oct, 8 & 9 Octob
PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2004 12:36 pm 
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Merce Cunningham Dance Company
By John Percival for The Stage


Merce Cunningham has always tossed coins or rolled dice to introduce an otherwise unthought of element into his dances but his new Split Sides goes further, having guests roll the dice onstage each evening to settle which of two scores is played first and the order in which two decors - one more colourful than the other - two sets of costumes (ditto) and two lighting plots are used. The order of dance sequences is similarly settled earlier in the afternoon so that dancers can rehearse.

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