Performing Cunningham in the gym made a huge difference for me — although I had been watching my fellow dancers all semester, I suddenly felt like I was seeing them do something entirely new. Having a little bit of physical distance from what was going on allowed me to visually take the choreography in all at once, instead of digesting it in little parts. A friend of mine said that he thought that Cunningham’s movement was “strange, but in the way that an insect is strange.” I think he really touched on something here: there are all these intricacies and quirks in the movement, and it is sort of fascinating in the way an insect is–all of its little joints fit together so perfectly.
I had been concerned earlier in the semester that maybe his choreography is more interesting for dancers than it is for viewers. Would viewers be able to see the logic of what we were working out? Or would it look completely senseless? In part, I think Cunningham’s geometric use of space and the body prevents his work from pulling apart at the seams–this geometry brings a certain coherence and focus to the work. I also think performing this movement in a space that fits it is really key.
A huge thank you to Meg, Jen & Emily! This was a great semester. Can’t wait to do it again!