Merce Cunningham Dance Company Stage Design

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Merce Cunningham Dance Company Stage Design
Miralles Tagliabue EMBT creates the stage design for Merce Cunningham’s newest dance show. The renowned choreographer and dancer is one of the most important of the 20th Century. The choreography, which is entitled “Nearly Ninety” premiered at the BAM festival in New York on the 90th birthday of its creator.

The scenography is a mobile structure which allows four different vantage points that frame the four movements, into which the choreography is divided. Several platforms, on different levels, house the musicians who are playing live: the group Sonic Youth, the Led Zeppelin guitarist, John Paul Jones; and the Japanese musician Takehisa Kosugi; one of these platforms also serves as the stage for one of the ballerinas.

The structure, constructed by the metal forger Esteve Miret in steel, is partially covered with a skin made from a semitransparent and iridescent cloth material which reflects light. The scenography also has projections from the videoartist Frank Aleu, who usually collaborates with La Fura dels Baus. They give this structure a solid appearance, its volume resembling a “rock”. And the fact is that the original idea came from a small piece, resembling a glass mountain, which reflected light and divided it into colours. From that object, Benedetta Tagliabue designed a volumetric structure which would also reflect those colours and that light through this semitransparent “skin”.

“The challenge was twice as difficult: on the one hand, because there had only been two previous projects in the field of scenography (a collaboration with La Fura dels Baus for their DQ show, premiering at the Liceu Opera House in 2000, and our own scenography that we designed to inaugurate the studio); and on the other, because Cunningham works in a way which  is completely improvised, free, innovative and not restricted to pre-established methods and, therefore, there was no set idea about how to develop the project”. And if that wasn’t enough, Cunningham’s previous scenographers had been artists and designers of the stature of Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol…”

"There isn’t a storyline, because Cunningham’s dance, like himself, is defined as being “not narrative”; nevertheless, there is an underlying idea: the staircase, which enables someone to move up sections, to continue on, moving forward until reaching the highest point, heaven."

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  • Gizmo14
    Gizmo14 commented
    about 6 years ago via iPhone