CUNNINGHAM to be Released in Theaters Across the UK and Ireland Starting March 13
CUNNINGHAM, a 3D cinematic experience about legendary American choreographer Merce Cunningham is set to be released in cinemas across the UK and Ireland from 13 March 2020, following the Merce Cunningham centenary this year.
Directed by Alla Kovagan for Dogwoof, the film follows Merce's artistic evolution over three decades of risk and discovery between 1944-1972, from early years as a struggling dancer in postwar New York to his emergence as one of the most visionary and influential choreographers in the world. Misunderstood and rejected by the dance world of his time, Merce persevered against all odds and developed a new dance technique and a new way of thinking about making dance performances in collaboration with composer John Cage and visual artist Robert Rauschenberg.
Rooted in both imaginary realms and actual life experiences, the film features
excerpts from Cunningham's works, re-imagined for 3D cinema at interior and exterior locations. The precise choreography of the camera will allow viewers to "step inside the dance"; and the archival materials (16mm/35mm footage, audio, and photographs) evoke the charged atmosphere of the time, while Merce's own diagrams and drawings provide insight into his creative process. 3D technology weaves all the elements together, creating a moving and visceral journey through Merce's world.
Alla Kovagan, Director, said: "I never imagined working with Merce's choreography on film because of the complexity of his choreographic structures and his infinite explorations in time and space. 3D offers interesting opportunities as it articulates the relationship between the dancers in and to the space. Merce and 3D represent an idea fit, not only because of his use of space but also because of his interest in every technological advancement of his time and his willingness to adapt and work in unconventional settings/locations. It became clear to me that even back in the 1950s, before Merce developed the idea of an "event," he had been longing to create immersive environments for his dances. Today, 3D allows for his dream to come true."
Jennifer Goggans, Director of Choreography said: "There is a certain poignancy in hearing Merce's voice for those of us that knew and worked with him. But beyond that trigger of emotion is the fact that he and his early collaborators and dancers tell the story, in their own voices, which gives a weight and power to this film that is undeniable. The archival materials that Alla uncovered in her research are simply stunning and the live action scenes bring Cunningham's dances into the present tense, displaying how truly ahead of his time he was as an artist. But what touched me most of all, was being reminded of the perseverance and determination of everyone involved in the formative years of the company and Cunningham's openness to the generations that followed. It is an honor to be part of this history and to be able to share his work once again on such a large scale."
The full creative team on the film is made up of Alla Kovgan (Director & Writer), Jennifer Goggins (Director of Choreography, US), Robert Swinson (Supervising Director of Choreography, US), Joséphine Derobe (Director of Stereography, France), Mko Malkhasyan (Director of Photography, Us/Armenia), Hauschka (Volker Bertelmann) (Composer, Germany) and Mieke Ulfig (Archival Sequences Designer, Germany).
Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) was a world-renowned choreographer unequaled for innovation in both the 20th and 21st centuries. Merce persevered against all odds and developed a new dance technique and a new way of thinking in collaboration with seminal visual artists and composers such as John Cage (who was also his life partner), Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company was founded in 1953 and disbanded in 2011 after Merce's death. Throughout his seventy-year career, Merce choreographed more than 180 dances and over 700 "Events," which combined excerpts from diverse works in novel contexts. Known for his experimentation with "chance operations," he also worked with the cutting-edge technologies of his time -including film, video, TV, computer programming, and motion capture-to explore his work in different contexts. Merce's story, commitment to innovation, and ideas continue to influence generations of artists and choreographers worldwide.
Born in Moscow, Alla Kovgan has divided her time between Europe and the US working with dance and film collaborations on screen, VR and in theatre. She also brings a strong record as a documentary writer/editor. Her film NORA has received 30 awards in every genre and was broadcast worldwide. She co-wrote/edited the Emmy-nominated TRACES OF THE TRADE (Sundance, PBS), MOVEMENT REVOLUTION AFRICA (ZDF/ARTE) and edited MY PERESTROIKA (Sundance, PBS). Her first VR piece with Finnish music duo Puhti DEVIL'S LUNGS won Grand Prix at the Vienna Shorts Festival, which made her an artist-in-residence at Vienna's Museum Quarter 21 in 2019.
Jennifer Goggans, a Kentucky native, holds a BFA from SUNY Purchase and performed as a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for 12 years. She was the Assistant to the Director of Choreography during the company's final Legacy Tour. She has taught Cunningham Technique® classes and staged his works across the globe, notably, the Paris Opera Ballet, the Lyon Opera Ballet, the Bayerisches Staatsballet, L.A. Dance Project, the Stephen Petronio Company and the Juilliard School. Goggans has performed with the Louisville Ballet, MOMIX, Chantal Yzermans, and Christopher Williams and has appeared as a guest artist with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. She also studied fashion design at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology and has created costumes for Tere O'Connor and RoseAnne Spradlin. Currently, she is also the Program Coordinator for the Merce Cunningham Trust.
Robert Swinston joined the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC) in 1980 and became Assistant to Merce Cunningham in 1992. Following Cunningham's death in 2009, he was named Director of Choreography and a Trustee of the Merce Cunningham Trust. He oversaw the MCDC, the Repertory Understudy Group, and the Cunningham Educational Outreach Program until the closure of the MCDC in 2011. Swinston reconstructed many Cunningham dances for the MCDC and staged his works worldwide - for Boston Ballet, White Oak Dance Project, New York City Ballet, and the Paris Opera Ballet. In 2003, Swinston received a Bessie Award for his performance in the revival of Cunningham's How to Pass, Kick, Fall, & Run. Since 2013, he has acted as the Artistic Director of the Centre National de Danse Contemporaine in Angers, France and formed a new company that has 8 Cunningham dances in its repertoire, and performed numerous Cunningham Events. His tenure at the CNDC will expire in June 2020, and he is dedicated to continuing sharing the Cunningham legacy throughout the world.