Dance Film Sunday: The Merce Cunningham Company Park Avenue Armory Event

Dance Film Sunday:  The Merce Cunningham Company Park Avenue Armory Event

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

2:00 pm | 53 minute | $10/$6 children

Let April be a month of Merce!  To honor the 95th Anniversary of the birth of American dance legend Merce Cunningham (born April 16, 1919) Rosendale Theatre will screen the filmed version of the Merce Cunningham Company’s absolute final public performance at New York City’s Park Avenue Armory—known as the Park Avenue Armory Event.  A Cunningham Company “Event,” as described by Mr. Cunningham, “consists of excerpts of dances from the repertory and new sequences arranged for the particular performance and place, with the possibility of several separate activities happening at the same time—to allow not so much an evening of dance as the experience of dance.”  Nearly 800 Events were staged by Cunningham, but this Event, his epitaph, is one the largest undertaken.  It is a retrospective glimpse of fifty years of Cunningham’s choreography, from Rune (1959) to Nearly 902 (2009).  Running time is 53 minutes.

The Park Avenue Armory Event, which took place on the last days of December, 2011, was the culmination of the two-year Legacy Tour undertaken by the Cunningham Company following the 2009 death of the choreographer.  The Armory’s drill hall is one of the largest unobstructed interior spaces in New York City which allowed for three stages ringed with footlights to be constructed, as well as platforms for musicians and grandstands. To accompany the dance four new musical compositions were commissioned from David Behrman, Takehisa Kosugi, John King, and Christian Wolff. Visual artist Daniel Arsham designed and built the huge sculptures hanging from the ceiling. Costumes designed by Anna Finke display photographic images of New York City’s Westbeth complex, the site of Cunningham’s home and studio for 4 decades.

Spectators at the Event were free to move about and experience the dance from any position.  The Park Avenue Armory Event was edited to reflect the choices that a spectator might have made, seamlessly moving attention among the three stages and the surrounding area, a concept compatible with Cunningham’s and John Cage’s interest in chance and randomness. “The diversity that each of these dancers showed in just 50 minutes was more than most dancers show in a lifetime.”

Dance Film Sundays, a series which started in June 2010 under the auspices of the Rosendale Theatre Collective, are held on the 2nd Sunday of every month at Rosendale Theatre.