Merce Cunningham made beginning-middle-end narratives walk the plank. He talked about “eliminating structure points,” and his partner and collaborator John Cage has bolstered such thoughts by explaining that he wanted dance to have the fluidity of the weather. Re-routing the way storytelling worked, the iconic choreographer’s art overwhelmed with both poetics and what he deemed “atmosphere.” Exactly what that atmosphere evoked was up to each viewer in the audience.
“The ambiguity in Cunningham’s work has led some reviewers to call his dances “abstract.” This term is somewhat misleading, for – unlike Alwin Nikoliai‘s dancers, who wear elaborate and enveloping costumes – Cunningham’s dancers are never really symbolic or decorative. “My feeling is very strongly that we are humans engaged in certain situations,” Cunningham has said. These situations may not be familiar, or even recognizable, but the dancers, whose simple costumes never conceal the body and whose movements are all based on the body’s natural expressivity, are never more or less than human. ”
A clip of “Beach Birds” and a chat with Cage and MC after the jump.