For Immediate Release

Cunningham: Past, Present And Future

Merce Cunningham Dance Company Presents Two Premieres, Classic Works, And Current Hits At City Center, March 31-April 8

Collaborators Include Robert Rauschenberg,Charles Long, Roy Lichtenstein, Gavin Bryars, Brian Eno, John Cage, Among Others

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Renowned and revered equally for his revolutionary choreography and ground-breaking collaborations with contemporary visual artists and composers, Merce Cunningham will once again challenge—and entertain—audiences when the Merce Cunningham Dance Company returns to City Center, March 31-April 8.  Expect two dramatically different premieres, a series of important revivals, as well as selections from Cunningham’s current hit list.

The opening night will be celebrated with the world premiere of “Way Station,” a work for the full 16-member troupe.  The dance has an original score, “Trilogy,” by the Company’s present music director Takehisa Kosugi, and decor by the young contemporary sculptor Charles Long.  Also scheduled is “Summerspace,” which was first performed by the Company at the 1958 American Dance Festival.  In 1966, the dance was set on the New York City Ballet, which first performed it at the New York State Theater.  The famous color-flecked, Pointillist décor is by Robert Rauschenberg and the score, “Ixion,” is by Morton Feldman. The evening will also feature the revival of another Cunningham classic, “RainForest,” whose floating silver pillows by Andy Warhol have also been seen in many of the choreographer’s Events since the dance’s premiere in 1968.  The music, also entitled “RainForest,” is by the late David Tudor.

The season will further feature the New York City premiere of “Interscape,” a joyous, 45-minute dance, which reunites the choreographer with two of his most prominent collaborators: Robert Rauschenberg, who designed the montage-like set and costumes, and the late composer and former Cunningham musical director John Cage.  “Interscape” is accompanied by John Cage’s “One8” for solo cello and/or by his “108” for full orchestra.  At City Center, “One8,” performed by cellist Loren Kiyoshi Dempster, will accompany “Interscape.”

“BIPED,” Cunningham’s hit of the 1999 Lincoln Center Festival, will also be performed, along with his 1998 premiere, “Pond Way.“  A riveting, theatrical breakthrough work, “BIPED” explores and exploits new possibilities presented by motion capture technology.  Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar collaborated with Cunningham in transposing the dancers’ original movement into digital images to create the dance’s virtual choreography. The commissioned music for the dance, also entitled “BIPED,” is by Gavin Bryars, who will perform on keyboard and contra bass at City Center, along with electric guitarist James Woodrow.  Suffused in a serene lyricism, “Pond Way,” which received its first performance in 1998, uses an original score by Brian Eno entitled “New Ikebukuro (for 3 CD players).”  The décor, “Landscape with Boat,” is by Roy Lichtenstein, and the costumes are by the late Suzanne Gallo.

Tour Dates

Following its City Center season, the Cunningham Company, which recently returned from two weeks in Australia, will be seen at Meany Hall at the University of Washington in Seattle (April 26-28); at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, OR (May 2) and at Zellerbach Hall at the University of California, Berkeley (May 4-5).  It will travel to Europe for performances at the Rivoli Teatro Municipal in Porto, Portugal, (June 20-22); at the Musiektheater in Amsterdam, Netherlands (June 26, 27, 29 and 30) and in Montpellier, France (July 3).  The Company will return to the United States for performances at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC (July 12-14) and at the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, NY (July 20-21).  Additional European dates are in the works

Where To Go

Curtain times for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s performances at City Center are March 31 at 7pm; Tuesday through Saturday evening at 8pm.  There will be 2pm matinees on both Saturday, April 7 and Sunday, April 8. Please note there will be no performance on Sunday, April 1 or Monday, April 2.

Tickets for the City Center season, which range between $25 and $55, can be purchased through CITYTIX at 212.581.1212, or at the City Center box office.  City Center is located at 131 West 55th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues).

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Photo by Annie Liebovitz