Merce Keeps It Going

Nonagenarian Merce Cunningham still wows the crowd in Brooklyn with his latest show, Nearly Ninety.

BY Robert Hilferty

April 20 2009 12:00 AM ET

George Balanchine and
Merce Cunningham are the two greatest choreographers of the
20th century -- yet polar opposites in method, style, and
relation to music. But Cunningham is still alive and making new
dances in the 21st century. Being wheelchair-bound hasn't
curbed him at all.

His latest (and
possibly last) work is called
Nearly Ninety

and was premiered on his 90th birthday at the Brooklyn Academy
of Music on April 16. It's a major, evening-length work
featuring music by Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, Sonic
Youth, and Takehisa Kosugi; costumes by Romeo Gigli, sets by
Benedetta Tagliabue, and video projections by Franc Aleu --
and, of course, the 14 brilliant dancers that make up his
stellar troupe. The place was packed, with the famous and
anonymous, the old and the young, dance and Merce lovers
all.

The silhouette of an
enigmatic structure you can't quite make out fills a scrim
behind which it hides; Asiatic timbres produced by Western
electric guitars and drum-set cymbals hang in the air,
amplified yet delicate. Soon lithe bodies in tight-fitting
white and blue-gray unitards are moving in strange, captivating
ways -- the mesmerizing configurations Cunningham has been
cooking up for decades through the use of chance procedures he
gleaned from his longtime partner and creative collaborator,
John Cage (who died in 1992). For the past 10 years he's
furthered his technique with computer software called
DanceForms.

Tags: Dance

AddThis

READER COMMENTS ()

Quantcast