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Wednesday September 20, 2017
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Merce Cunningham

 

continued

Cunningham is often touted as the Balanchine of modern dance, and as facile as such a comparison is, it proves a useful shorthand for Cunningham's deconstructed classicism and wholesale reconsideration of how the body moves in time and space. The major difference is that Balanchine used music as his "ground," while Cunningham radically divorced music from movement altogether. For Cunningham and his lifelong collaborator, the late composer John Cage, there is no relation between sound (or, for that matter, lighting, decor, or costume) and the steps. They unite only in performance, often with a roll of the dice.

How to Pass, Kick, Fall, and Run (1965), on the March 12 bill, is a signature ensemble piece syncopated with droll stories written by Cage and read on stage — often by Cunningham himself — in a delightfully deadpan manner. (In person, Cunningham remains a celestial force of articulated energy, generosity, and open-face intelligence.)

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