Posted in music | pictures on April 19, 2009

photos by Stephanie Berger

Merce Cunningham

"It is not unusual these days to hear Merce Cunningham called the world's greatest living choreographer. I go further: I have long thought that he is the greatest living artist since the death of Samuel Beckett, almost 20 years ago.

His latest world premiere, "Nearly Ninety," presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Thursday (his 90th birthday), is not a perfect work of art...

...The music, composed and performed by John Paul Jones, Takehisa Kosugi and Sonic Youth (Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley), sounds now like a rock musician's worst hangover, as if the pot and the kettle were calling each other every color under the sun before settling down and breeding a whole tribe of tintinnabulations. One powerful guitar chord out of the blue happened on Thursday to coincide with the most electrifying gear change in the Goggans-Squire duet, but even such moments are mere effects... [NY Times]

The show's 4th of four performances takes place today, Sunday the 19th, at BAM. More pictures below...

Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham

---

      

Comments (20)

i was raised on the cunningham technique.....props

Posted by isla | April 19, 2009 3:15 AM

This basically the Exhibit A of why BAM has best programming.

Posted by Anonymous | April 19, 2009 3:27 AM

these photos are absolutely stunning.

Posted by Lori | April 19, 2009 4:47 AM

The dude Thurston's holding hands with appears to have sizable hydraulics.

Posted by Anonymous | April 19, 2009 10:15 AM

^^^ you are an ass.

it's exactly that kind of comment we need less of on this, or any site really, that tried to bring forth art. i was at last night's performance, and it was stunning beyond words both visually and aurally. thank you to all who made that possible. and on a side note, caught bill callahan's last song "let me see the colts" at other music on the walk home and it brought tears to my eyes. jeeeezus, his voice is magic.

Posted by Anonymous | April 19, 2009 10:44 AM

An interesting night, but Sonic Youth really needs to pack it in. Everything they attach themselves to is ruined by their inability to do anything but suck. Sonic Hacks!

Posted by Anonymous | April 19, 2009 10:51 AM

White people can't dance.

Posted by Anonymous | April 19, 2009 11:44 AM

by the looks of it you could throw a camera on burst mode in the general direction of the stage and get interesting pics out of that set. damn.

Posted by Anonymous | April 19, 2009 12:18 PM

some of these are kind of blurry :(

Posted by Anonymous | April 19, 2009 12:33 PM

ok, I'm not really an expert on the whole "dance" scene but explain to me how a decrepit old person in a wheel chair "choreographs"?

oh and anon 10:44, you are the ass.

How about you trade in those big elephant tears for a sense of humor.

Posted by Anonymous | April 19, 2009 3:21 PM

Hey - are these photos by "Poetry Brothel" Stephanie Berger?

Posted by Anonymous | April 19, 2009 6:39 PM

Boring dance concert, but there were Sonic Youth blasting their ever charming SYR noise. I wonder why those "capital A art" deadheads think rock concerts are just noise...

Posted by Alexandre Matias | April 20, 2009 2:46 AM

i thought the whole performance was pretty genius - an assault on the senses (though i agree the dancing got a bit repetitive and the musical genius of sonic youth stole the show). that being said, merce cunningham is all about creating nearly impossible shapes with the human form and not about entertainment. john cage did score all his shows since the 40s.

by the way, he uses a computer program to choreograph that he began to use and helped develop in the 80s.

i wish the photos captured more of the video-art elements... an integral part of the experience.

Posted by Anonymous | April 20, 2009 10:49 AM

it makes sense about the computer choreography. i could not even conceive of the positions that these incredible dancers bend into, like contortionists!

Posted by smallstack | April 20, 2009 11:57 AM

yep, kim and thrusto holding ballet dancers hands-
if that's not the uncoolest pic of the supposedly coolest couple (of old farts) in nyc, then i don't know hep nohow-

anyone who thinks this was at all worth the $$$,
thank god for you- the economy is just fine! keep giving yr $$ to old people who have $$.

obama '08!

Posted by Anonymous | April 20, 2009 1:29 PM

Dear commenter above^
What the hell are you talking about?
First of all, nothing about any of this has anything to do with ballet. Second, how is any of this "uncool?" Sonic Youth has been on the cutting edge of music for nearly thirty years. Merce Cunningham and his Dance Company have been at the forefront of dance even longer. These people shaped contemporary music, dance, and art communities and are some of the coolest groups you'll ever having the privilege of knowing about.

If I may quote the NY Times article at the top of this page... "It is not unusual these days to hear Merce Cunningham called the world's greatest living choreographer. I go further: I have long thought that he is the greatest living artist since the death of Samuel Beckett, almost 20 years ago."

So yes, the show was outstanding and to see the world class Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Sonic Youth, Takehisa Kosugi, and John Paul Jones, with an interesting set, great costumes, and amazing art and lighting, in great seats at the beautiful Brooklyn Academy of Music on a Saturday evening for only $30 was absolutely worth it. I'm more than happy to give my money to BAM, these artists, and the AIDS causes they are supporting at the show.

But hey, thank goodness for the internet so you can spew your poorly-written ignorant bullshit all over the place for others to read. Kudos, you.

Posted by Mike | April 20, 2009 8:10 PM

i love the pics! i was not at the show but im sure it was great!

Posted by Duane H | April 20, 2009 9:59 PM

i really wish the metal contraption was more refined.....

really distracting against the soundscape and movement...


Posted by Anonymous | April 21, 2009 1:40 AM

Hi all- Ethan from Crystal Castles here. Check out our myspace for info on our upcoming tour as well as instructions to buy and download our new LP album. Chances are we're playing in your city some time soon, as we're kind of a big deal ;)

http://www.myspace.com/crystalcastles

Posted by Ethan Kath | April 21, 2009 1:47 AM

He doesn't use dance forms (the choreography computer program) any more. He describes the movement to the dancers, providing enough detail that dancers' interpretations are limited to very specific possibilities. Then it's rehearsed and refined for many months.

It's hard to get a good impression of the work from photographs. To see the company in action look at these videos:

http://www.merce.org/mondayswithmerce.html

Posted by Anonymous | April 21, 2009 10:16 AM

Leave a Comment