Merce Cunningham Dance Co Comes To Walt Disney Concert Hall 6/4-6

The 2009-2010 season of Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center presents the world premiere of the revival of Merce Cunningham's Roaratorio as part of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's Legacy Tour, a final two-year celebration of Cunningham's lifetime of artistic achievement. At Walt Disney Concert Hall for three performances only on June 4, 5, and 6, this engagement will be the final opportunity for the people of Los Angeles to see Cunningham's work performed by the dancers he personally trained.

Roaratorio is one of the most ambitious and large-scale Cunningham-Cage collaborations. The work features an original recording of John Cage's complex 1979 composition Roaratorio, an Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake.

This revival of Roaratorio is a co-commission of the Music Center of Los Angeles County, Festival Montpellier Danse 2010, and Théâtre de la Ville/Festival d'Automne à Paris. The revival and preservation of Roaratorio are made possible in part through the generous support of American Express.

Tickets for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company are available through Ticketmaster Phone Charge at (800) 982-2787, at all Ticketmaster Outlets and online at, and at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office. For groups of 15 or more, call CTG Group Sales at (213) 972-7231. Artists and Program are subject to change. For more information, please visit <> and

Merce Cunningham (1919--2009) was a leader of the American avant-garde throughout his seventy-year career, and is considered one of the most important choreographers of our time. Merce Cunningham Dance Company, founded in 1953, has forged a distinctive style reflecting Cunningham's technique and his radical approach to space, time, and technology. The Company's collaborations with groundbreaking artists from all disciplines have redefined the way audiences experience the visual and performing arts.

Following Cunningham's passing on July 26, 2009, Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC) began preparations for a two-year world tour that celebrates his lifetime of creativity, and allows audiences a final opportunity to see Cunningham's work performed by the company he personally trained. The Legacy Tour is a component of the Cunningham Dance Foundation's precedent-setting Legacy Plan, which delineates the future of the MCDC and ensures the preservation of Cunningham's artistic legacy. The multifaceted plan also supports career transition for the dancers, musicians, and staff who have invested their time and creative efforts into the realization of Cunningham's vision, and provides for the creation of digital "Dance Capsules" that will bring Cunningham's work to life for future generations.

The Legacy Tour, which launched in February 2010 and culminates with a New Year's Eve performance in New York City on December 31, 2011, features the revival of key works from the Cunningham repertory, and will help to cement a full understanding of the choreographer's artistic contributions and achievements. MCDC will disband following this final performance.

Dance at the Music Center previously presented MCDC in its second season, June of 2005.

Mark Swed, in the Los Angeles Times, wrote, "What distinguished Cunningham from all other great choreographers was the degree of his inclusiveness. He invented dance movements that were modern and new, but even more revolutionary was the way he placed them in the world in which we lived. Cunningham could never take his eyes off the street, and the dynamic that we all witness everyday is what he embraced. And he proved that music, costumes, set designs, lighting and sound could all exist independently on stage, just like they do in our lives, so long as there is a general shared aesthetic."

About "Roaratorio"

Of all his collaborations, Merce Cunningham's work with John Cage, his life partner from the 1940s until Cage's death in 1992, had the greatest influence on his practice. Together, Cunningham and Cage proposed a number of radical innovations. The most famous and controversial of these concerned the relationship between dance and music, which they concluded may occur in the same time and space, but should be created independently of one another. The two also made extensive use of chance procedures, abandoning not only musical forms, but narrative and other conventional elements of dance composition-such as cause and effect, and climax and anticlimax. For Cunningham the subject of his dances was always dance itself.

Roaratorio is performed to an original recording of John Cage's complex 1979 composition Roaratorio, an Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake. Cage traveled through Ireland recording sounds in places mentioned in Joyce's novel, which were later assembled to form an hour-long piece. Using lines from "Finnegans Wake," Cage wrote mesostics (poems constructed so a vertical phrase intersects lines of horizontal text) on "JAMESJOYCE," which were read aloud during the performance, and scored parts based on Irish traditional music-jigs, reels, airs, and songs-that are played throughout his recording of the work. Cunningham's choreography incorporates motifs on jigs and reels, a "hopping" dance, promenades and strolls, and folk dances that suddenly expand into huge communal circles.

About Merce Cunningham Dance Company

Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC) has had a profound impact on American art and the avant-garde since it's founding in 1953. Guided by Merce Cunningham's radical approach to space, time, and technology, the Company has forged a distinctive style, reflecting Cunningham's technique and illuminating the near limitless possibility for human movement. For more than fifty years, MCDC's collaborations with groundbreaking artists from all disciplines have redefined the way audiences experience the visual and performing arts.

MCDC was formed at Black Mountain College, and included dancers Carolyn Brown, Viola Farber, Paul Taylor, and Remy Charlip, and musicians John Cage and David Tudor. In its early years, the Company famously toured in a Volkswagen bus driven by John Cage with just enough room for six dancers, the two musicians, and a stage manager, who was often Robert Rauschenberg. MCDC's first international tour in 1964-which included performances in Western and Eastern Europe, India, Thailand, and Japan-marked a turning point for the Company and solidified a constant stream of national and international bookings. In the years since, MCDC has inspired artists and audiences with innovative performances, serving as an ambassador for contemporary American culture around the world.

In addition to its influence in the world of dance, MCDC has cultivated a body of new music, commissioning more work from contemporary composers than any other dance company. Its repertory includes works by musicians ranging from John Cage and Lou Harrison to Gavin Bryars and Radiohead. Cage's association with the Company as Musical Advisor since its inception continued until his death in 1992, when he was succeeded by David Tudor. Since 1995, MCDC has been under the music direction of Takehisa Kosugi.

The Company has also collaborated with an array of visual artists and designers. Robert Rauschenberg, whose famous "Combines" reflect the approach he used to create décor for a number of MCDC's early works, served as the Company's resident designer from 1954 through 1964. Jasper Johns followed as Artistic Advisor from 1967 until 1980, and Mark Lancaster from 1980 through 1984. The last Advisors to be appointed were William Anastasi and Dove Bradshaw in 1984. Other artists who have collaborated with MCDC include Tacita Dean, Rei Kawakubo, Roy Lichtenstein, Bruce Nauman, Ernesto Neto, Frank Stella, Benedetta Tagliabue, and Andy Warhol.

MCDC has been featured extensively in film and video choreographed by Cunningham, first with Charles Atlas and later in collaboration with Elliot Caplan, among others. With support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Atlas continues to collaborate with MCDC, filming Views on Camera and Views on Video in 2004/2005 and, this past fall, filming the Company perform Cunningham's epic work Ocean (1994) in Minnesota's Rainbow Quarry, 100 feet below the surface of the earth, accompanied by the 150-member St. Cloud Orchestra. Split Sides, which premiered on the 50th anniversary of the Company at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music (BAM) in 2003, was just released on DVD by ARTPIX, and was the work performed when the company appeared in the Dance at the Music Center series in 2005.

In 2007, MCDC began a two-year residency with Dia:Beacon, performing Events, Cunningham's site-specific choreographic collages, in the galleries of Richard Serra, Dan Flavin, and Sol LeWitt among others. Also in 2007, MCDC premiered XOVER, Cunningham's final collaboration with Rauschenberg, at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Cunningham's final work, Nearly Ninety, premiered at BAM on April 16, 2009 - the actual date of his 90th birthday - and has since been performed around the world along with an alternate version, "Nearly 902." Cunningham died on July 26, 2009.

The Legacy Tour is a celebration of Cunningham's lifetime of artistic achievement and a testament to the choreographer's enduring genius. Launched in February 2010, the two-year tour showcases 18 seminal works from throughout Cunningham's career-including the revival of Roaratorio and six other dances from past Company repertory-highlighting the collaborations with artistic innovators such as John Cage, Jasper Johns, Radiohead, and Robert Rauschenberg that characterized Cunningham's creative life.

Currently encompassing some 40 cities, the Legacy Tour will bring the Merce Cunningham Dance Company to new destinations around the world and includes performances at venues throughout Europe and the United States that have been pivotal in showcasing the Company for the past 50 years.

Following the closure of MCDC after The Legacy Tour concludes, the Cunningham Dance Foundation will also close, and its assets will be transferred to the Merce Cunningham Trust, a separate nonprofit organization established by Cunningham in 2000 to hold the rights to his work and manage his artistic legacy in perpetuity. The activities and the work of the Trust will be defined and overseen by its trustees-Laura Kuhn, Patricia Lent, Allan Sperling, and Robert Swinston-who were appointed by Cunningham prior to his death.

About Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham was a leader of the American avant-garde throughout his seventy-year career and is considered one of the most important choreographers of our time. Through much of his life, he was also one of the greatest American dancers. With an artistic career distinguished by constant innovation, Cunningham expanded the frontiers not only of dance, but also of contemporary visual and performing arts. His collaborations with artistic innovators from every creative discipline have yielded an unparalleled body of American dance, music, and visual art.

Born in Centralia, Washington on April 16, 1919, Cunningham began his professional modern dance career at 20 with a six-year tenure as a soloist in the Martha Graham Dance Company. In 1944 he presented his first solo show and in 1953 formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as a forum to explore his groundbreaking ideas. Over the course of his career, Cunningham choreographed more than 150 dances and over 800 Events. Dancers who trained with Cunningham and have gone on to form their own companies include Paul Taylor, Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Karole Armitage, Foofwa d'Immobilité, and Jonah Bokaer.

Cunningham's lifelong passion for exploration and innovation made him a leader in applying new technologies to the arts. He began investigating dance on film in the 1970s, and choreographed using the computer program DanceForms during the latter part of his career. He explored motion capture technology to create décor for BIPED (1999), and his interest in new media led to the creation of the web series Mondays with Merce.

An active choreographer and mentor to the arts world until his death at the age of 90, Cunningham earned some of the highest honors bestowed in the arts. Among his many awards are the National Medal of Arts (1990) and the MacArthur Fellowship (1985). He also received the Jacob's Pillow Dance Award in 2009, Japan's Praemium Imperiale in 2005, the British Laurence Olivier Award in 1985, and was named Officier of the Legion d'Honneur in France in 2004. Cunningham's life and artistic vision have been the subject of four books and three major exhibitions, and his works have been presented by groups including the Ballet of the Paris Opéra, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, White Oak Dance Project, and London's Rambert Dance Company.

Cunningham passed away in his New York City home on July 26, 2009. Always forward-thinking, Cunningham developed the precedent-setting Legacy Plan prior to his death to guide his Company and ensure the preservation of his artistic legacy.

About The Music Center

The Music Center - Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County is one of the largest and most highly regarded performing arts centers in the United States. Every year, almost 2 million people visit its four main venues - Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, and Walt Disney Concert Hall - along with its vibrant collection of outdoor theatres, plazas, and gardens. The Music Center produces a variety of programming including Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center, Active Arts at the Music Center, and The Blue Ribbon Presents Global Pop, along with programming for children and families throughout the year. The Center also provides extensive services and leadership in support of K-12 arts education, and offers tours of all four venues. The Music Center is home to four internationally acclaimed resident companies: Los Angeles Philharmonic, Center Theatre Group, LA Opera and Los Angeles Master Chorale.


The Music Center's ambitious dance program began in 2000 with the sold-out presentation of the Bolshoi Ballet in its historic production of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet as well as a new interpretation of Don Quixote. Since then, Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center has established a distinguished reputation - locally, nationally and internationally - and has become one of the premier presenters of dance in Southern California. The Music Center is one of the only venues in Los Angeles offering a full season of dance programming, consistently featuring the world's most illustrious dance companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Kirov Ballet of the Mariinsky Theatre, and Merce Cunningham Dance Company. The program provides learning opportunities at the Center and throughout the county for adults and children as well as free and low-cost tickets, open rehearsals, pre-and post-performance talks, school lecture and demonstrations, and community classes with visiting artists.

Upcoming Engagements
2009-2010 season of Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Glenn Edgerton, Artistic Director
April 9-11, 2010
Ahmanson Theatre
Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Merce Cunningham, Choreographer and Artistic Director
World Premiere of the revival of Roaratorio
June 4-6, 2010
Walt Disney Concert Hall
American Ballet Theatre
Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
"The Sleeping Beauty"
July 15 -18, 2010
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion


Related Articles

Los Angeles THEATER Stories | Shows  Like BWW LA  Follow BWW LA

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...