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Dance this week: Dance Umbrella

Posted on October 3, 2011

merce cunningham dc   secondhand 01 photoby anna finke

merce cunningham dc - secondhand 01 photoby anna finkeDance Umbrella’s celebration of Merce Cunningham continues this week, from the company’s final London performances to French choreographer Jérôme Bel’s Cédric Andrieux, a solo specially created for the former Cunningham dancer.

Since 2004, Bel has created a series of biographical solos, each one named after the dancer who performs it. He works collaboratively with his subjects, drawing on his or her experiences. Cédric Andrieux looks back at Andrieux’s training at the Paris Conservatoire, his years with the Cunningham company and, more recently, his time at the Lyon Opera Ballet, including extracts of works Andrieux has performed. It will be performed at the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House tonight and tomorrow.

One of dance’s great pioneers, Merce Cunningham died in 2009, having created a legacy plan for the future of his works. His company was to make a farewell tour before disbanding, leaving a Trust to conserve and teach Cunningham’s works to other companies. The last London performances of the legacy tour will take place at the Barbican Theatre, from Wednesday, October 5 until Saturday, October 8. This is the last chance for UK audiences to see Cunningham’s work performed by the company he trained.

On Wednesday, the company dance a triple bill of Pond Way, which has designs by the Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and music by Brian Eno, Second Hand (pictured) and the early work Antic Meet, an early comic work including a solo for a man with an impossible sweater. On Thursday and Friday, they dance Roaratorio, set to John Cage’s “Irish circus on Finnegans Wake”. On Saturday, the season ends with a double bill of RainForest, in which the cast push through the floating helium pillows of Andy Warhol’s set, and BIPED, one of Cunningham’s most beautiful dances, which has glowing digital designs.

Picture: Merce Cunningham Dance Company in Second Hand. Photograph: Anna Finke.

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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