Friday, December 09, 2011

Just in time

You'll know by now that one thing I particularly enjoy is belatedly learning to appreciate something of greatness which originally didn't move me. (In some cases it's doubtless the pendant to an earlier, less generous-spirited pleasure: finding highly praised things overrated.) Tonight I had the chance to see what the fuss about Merce Cunningham was all about - and just in time, as it was the penultimate performance of his dance company, which ends its 58-year run tomorrow night. (Cunningham himself died in 2009, at ninety.) The program was Pond
 
Way (1998), Rainforest (1968), and Split Sides, premiered in this very space, the BAM Opera House, in 2003. Each was lovely in its own way, every movement a delightful surprise. The last piece, which will also close tomorrow's final performance, has a sly game built into it. It starts with five rolls of a die, to determine in which order the two dances, costumes, soundtracks, lighting designs and sets should be performed. There are  25 = 32 possibilities. But although you see only one - the one we saw was exquisite - you also see them all. Nothing is missing.

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