Merce Cunningham Dance Company: Park Avenue Armory Event.
Merce Cunningham Dance Company: Park Avenue Armory Event
ARTPIX. 279 minutes (3 discs).
Whether or not you were at the Park Avenue Armory on the eve of 2012, when the Merce Cunningham Dance Company gave its final performances--the glorious home stretch of its two-year, international Legacy Tour--this beautifully shot and edited collection offers a fresh, transporting perspective on what happened there.
As an audience member at the event--a collage of Cunningham excerpts performed simultaneously on three stages, planted in the middle of the Armory's imposing, 55,000-square-foot Drill Hall--you had the freedom to wander throughout the space and seek out various vantage points, or simply to stay put and let your eye wander between the dancing on each stage. On Disc 1 of this three-disc set, the camera re-creates that exhilarating sense of multiplicity, swooping between the activity on each platform, while getting closer to the tremendously complicated choreography (and the intensely focused musicians) than any spectator could have. So it is that we see the trembling tendons of Andrea Weber's feet, supporting the equanimity of everything above them in her viscous solo from Way Station (2001). Then suddenly, we remember the vast, intricately teeming space around her, as the camera cuts to a wide shot encompassing the other two stages, a skittering quintet evolving on one as a sequence of leaps springs up on the other, all under the hovering presence of Daniel Arsham's molecular, cumulous sculptures.
Disc 1, true to the live viewing experience, doesn't capture everything, but Disc 2 compensates with uncut recordings of the performances on each stage. Disc 3 includes excerpts from all of the dances performed on the Legacy Tour, including archival gems from early works like Antic Meet and RainForest, featuring Merce, the dancer, himself.