It has been an extended and unprecedented countdown for the dancers and staff of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, said the Los Angeles Times. Never before has a modern-dance troupe planned for its own demise. But then Cunningham, one of the singular innovators in his field, who remained forward-looking and boldly creative until his 2009 death at age 90 — was always taking the lead, pioneering inventive, unexpected approaches.
The intensive two-year world tour culminates this week with six Events at Manhattan’s Park Avenue Armory.
The performances were planned by Cunningham as a global celebration and farewell. The armory, with its 55,000-square-foot drill hall, was his choice for his company’s final performance in its home city, and he stipulated the $10 ticket price. The dancing will unfold on three stages and, true to form, will feature newly commissioned music and original décor by Daniel Arsham.
These two years seemed like a gift. But now that we’re in the last stretch, there’s constant adrenaline — we’re tired but so excited. About two months ago we started saying goodbye to theaters, people. During the past week, we’ve done four pieces for the last time. It hasn’t quite hit me yet, that it’s the last time dancing them.”
said Andrea Weber, a member of the company of 14 dancers for nearly eight years.
The company’s final performance on New Year’s Eve will mark the end of a radical and visionary era in dance — and open up an unforeseen future for the Cunningham technique and repertory, and for the dancers themselves. Weber, who has plans to teach and hopes to continue performing, said:
After doing Merce’s work it’s going to be important to still have challenges. I think we’re all drawn to that somehow. The work says it all. I’m intrigued to see what I can find, what will happen.”
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.