News: Final steps

Monday 19 April 2010

In November 2008 British artist and Turner Prize nominee Tacita Dean filmed Merce Cunningham and his company in rehearsal for an event in a former Ford assembly plant in Richmond, California. She had worked with the legendary choreographer before, but this time asked to film rehearsals rather than a performance, so that she could watch Merce more closely – and observe the construction of the dance without music, which was how he usually worked. The 1930s building is situated in the middle of a working port, overlooking San Francisco Bay and as it’s glazed on three sides, passing ship traffic, pelicans, and ever changing light all seem to contribute to the choreography – in a which is typical of Cunningham’s site specific creations – and Dean’s work in film.

*Craneway Event,* Dean’s feature length film acquired a poignant new significance when Cunningham died last year on 26 July at the age of 90. It was the last time that he was filmed at work. She had just started editing the work when he died: “It immediately left me with an absence, which I filled initially by watching recordings of Merce dancing in his youth or chatting in interviews. When I returned to the film, I realised that I was in the unique position of still being able to work with him and to create something new, not only about him, but also with him. Although I lost the pleasure of imagining him watching the film, I gained a different sort of Muse. Merce’s joy in the process was steadfastly there and his enthusiasm seemed to have a directional force. I began to feel that Merce had set up the components that make up the film – the building, the dancers, the light, the ships and the birds, because he knew they would not fail him in absentia.”

_*Craneway Event (108 mins)* _will be showing at Frith Street Gallery from 13 May -27 June 2010 **Screening times: Tues-Fri 11:00-12:50, 13:30-15:20, 16:00-17:50; Sat 12:00-13:50, 14:30-16:20

“Merce blamed his crumbling bones on having danced for years on cement floors; now, he always insisted on sprung stages for his company.” Read Tacita Dean’s article about working with Merce Cunningham in the Guardian, 28 Apr 2010

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