Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Farewell, Merce

It's hard to believe that another dance icon has passed from our world. Well, that is to say that on the heels of the death of Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham has left his flesh body. But his amazing life and career will long impact the world beyond dance, beyond life as we know it.
Not much can be said about Merce that he hasn't already told us. From my own outside perspective, I had one long-lasting impression of being in the same room as Merce. In the mid 1990's, he brought his company to perform in Madison, Wisconsin. Highlighting the concert was his exquisite Beach Birds at the end of which came the company bow. Merce entered the stage slowly and steadily emitting a presence that was unmatched by anyone in the room. Knowledge, confidence, clarity and calm radiated from his thin arthritic body. This was not an impostor or an understudy, this was Merce Cunningham.
One of the few artists to fearlessly embrace the present and allow his work to evolve, Merce threw himself into the world of experiment, and later the world of technology. He remains one of dances all-time greatest innovators. As a composer friend of mine commented yesterday on hearing the news, perhaps John Cage has a piano prepared for him in heaven.
Thank you, and farewell, Mr. Cunningham.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Save the Dates

Here’s a sample of the dance feast you can partake in for 2009-2010 in Chicago:

At the Museum of Contemporary Art

Nora Chipaumire with Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited
lions will roar, swans will fly, angels will wrestle heaven, rains will break: gukarahundi
October 1, 3, 4, 2009

Lucinda Childs
October 15-17, 2009

Anna Halprin, Anne Collod and guests
parades & changes, replays
November 5, 7, 8, 2009

Akram Khan Company & National Ballet of China
February 26-28, 2010

The Seldoms with Fraser Taylor
March 12-14, 2010

John Jasperse Company
Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking, and Flat Out Lies
April 9-11, 2010

At the Dance Center of Columbia College

Merce Cunningham Dance Company
October 1, 2, 3, 2009

Lucky Plush Productions
October 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31, 2009

Cloud Dance Theatre of Taiwan
January 22, 23, 2010

February 4, 5, 6, 2010

Jump Rhythm Jazz Project
February 18, 19, 20, 2010

Troika Ranch
March 4, 5, 6, 2010

Wayne McGregor/Random Dance
March 18, 19, 20, 2009
Hedwig Dances
April 1, 2, 3, 2010

At the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance

Mikhail Baryshnikov
Three solos and a duet
September 25, 26, 27, 2009

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
January 27, 2010

Hubbard Street Dance Company 2009-2010 Season
October 1-4, 2009
December 3-6, 2009
March 18-21, 2010
June 3-6, 2010

Joffrey Ballet of Chicago 2009-2010 Season
October 14-25, 2009
December 11-27, 2009
February 17-28, 2010
April 28-May 9, 2010

Friday, July 3, 2009

Remembering Pina Bausch

My first experience with Pina Bausch was through a German Dance festival in Chicago in the early 1980’s. I didn’t see her work performed live, but at the encouragement of my modern dance teacher, watched a film called “On Tour with Pina Bausch”. The film changed my perspective of dance forever.

Until that point, I had only known dance as pure movement and only considered it from a technical standpoint. Bausch innovatively stretched the limits of dance technique and movement, but in a compelling theatrical way. Somehow she found a way to use the abstraction of dance vocabulary to tell concrete and powerful stories. And not only did Bausch influence countless choreographers, but she did so from a home base of the industrial Ruhrgebiet---a region comparable to Gary, Indiana in the U.S.

Her influences will no doubt be felt for years to come.