In the dance world there is before Merce Cunningham and there is after Merce Cunningham – he was probably the most influential choreographer of the twentieth century. He created a Copernican revolution in observing dance and redefined the organization of the stage space. With his long-term partner in art and life, John Cage, he explored the use of chance in his creative process and the separation of music and movement, which continue to coexist within the same space-time of the performance.
Today his artistic legacy survives thanks to the Merce Cunningham Trust, which was established in 2000, and acts as a living archive of his choreographic repertory, his creative processes and ideas, and his teaching. To celebrate the Centennial of this visionary American dance artist, more than 636 events, including performances, film screenings, research and publications, master classes, and workshops attracted more than 127,000 people between September 2018 and December 2019. The highlight of the celebration was Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event, an evening of dance that took place in London, New York, and Los Angeles on the day of his 100th birthday (April 16, 2019) and was streamed around the world. The Event included some 100 dancers, musicians, and visual artists who came together to commemorate Cunningham’s birth. The dancers performed solos from Cunningham’s choreography, which continue to be performed today under license from the Trust in many different contexts.
Daniel Squire, who staged the London portion of Night of 100 Solos and is a former dancer of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (which disbanded in 2011 in accordance with the choreographer’s wishes) will create a unique arrangement of solos for Oriente Occidente 2020. These will be performed in a tribute evening at the Zandonai Theatre and in site-specific performances organized in the city center streets of Rovereto.
Ten dancers from the most important European companies, including Rambert, Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company, and Michael Clark Company, who come from different backgrounds and training, will perform solos drawn from Cunningham’s vast repertory. They will be accompanied by John King's music 100tone-candles. Ten dancers present a sampling of Merce's choreography with diverse energies, myriad dynamics, unexpected changes of direction and rich articulations. Through an arrangement of forty solos from over twenty-nine Cunningham works that span more than fifty years, the audience enjoys a unique performance, a unique experience of dance.
Choreography Merce Cunningham
Danced by Luke Ahmet, Harry Alexander, Daphne Fernberger, Molly Hick, Hannah Kidd, Jonathan Goddard, Thomasin Gülgeç, Estela Merlos, Rowan Parker, Benjamin Warbis
Music John King, 100tone-candles
Costumes designed & built by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung
Arranged and staged Daniel Squire
Courtesy of the Merce Cunningham Trust
Choreography by Merce Cunningham © Merce Cunningham Trust. All rights reserved