Choreographer Merce Cunningham and visual artist Robert Rauschenberg were groundbreaking when they first collaborated from 1954 to 1964, and they kept breaking ground right up through their last collaboration in 2007. The two men believed art referred only to itself, and they created riveting works together. Even now in the age of YouTube, after the legendary choreographer and painter have passed on, their work still looks weird and wonderful.
This week, the collaboration continues beyond the grave, with a tribute to both men as part of the Cunningham Legacy Tour, which has been kicking around Europe and now begins in the States at the Arsht Center's Ziff Ballet Opera House. Cunningham's company will perform excerpts from the repertoire in an offering simply called Event.
"I chose the costumes by Rauschenberg," admits the company's executive
director, Trevor Carlson, of the bespackled brown and orange unitards
originally designed by artist for Interscape. "The choreography by Merce
has been chosen by Robert Swinston, Director of Choreography,
representing the six decades of work by Cunningham."
to go with that movement will be left to chance, though. As Carlson
explains: "The choreography is quite structured but the music,
choreography, and design were considered separately with Merce's idea in
mind that something greater might come out of the works created
separately by joining them in the same space at the same time.
makes the evening particularly exciting is that the audience will be
walking around the 360-degree stage with the dancers. "There is no way
to see everything, but there will always be something to see," Carlson
promises. "This kind of performance was first created by Merce when
invited to perform in a museum rather than a theater. We thought it
would be nice, during Art Basel Miami, to push the envelope a bit by
creating this same kind of situation in a theater."
As far as we
know, though, you will not be required to make any of Cunningham's
signature angular movements or don one of Rauschenberg's vintage
The Event runs Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m.and
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9:30 p.m. at the Arsht Center's Ziff Ballet Opera House (1300 Biscayne
Boulevard, Miami). Tickets cost $35. Call 305-949-6722 or visit
--Celeste Fraser Delgado for artburstmiami.com