Monday, July 27, 2009

RIP Merce Cunningham

Last night renowned contemporary choreographer Merce Cunningham died at the age of 90. Cunningham founded the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1953 after studying under Martha Graham. He was also know for his collaboration with composer John Cage (who was also his life partner) and with painters including Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. The Washington Post has more information about Cunningham's life and career. Here's some of Sarah Kaufman's article:

But his achievement is not limited to style, subject matter, quantity of works (nearly 200) or even the extraordinary longevity of his world-renowned troupe in a field known for spotty funding and wavering public support. Mr. Cunningham also invented radical working methods that exploded the mold and produced new ways of moving.

Simply put, Mr. Cunningham expanded what is possible in dance.

From his earliest works to his last, Mr. Cunningham flouted convention, embracing the unknown and the unpredictable. For example, in "eyeSpace" (2006), the audience was loaned pre-loaded iPods and encouraged to shuffle the specially commissioned musical selections at will.

Even toward the end of his life, when he was physically frail, crippled by arthritis, and his cloud of white hair had thinned to a mist, Mr. Cunningham was a fierce modernist. His commitment to contemporary music led him in his last years to creative partnerships with the wildly popular British art-rock band Radiohead and the minimalist Icelandic band Sigur Ros, both of whom performed live at the premiere of "Split Sides" in 2003.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Phantom of the Opera Sequel on Broadway in 2010

Andrew Lloyd Webber recently announced Sierra Boggess from Broadway's The Little Mermaid will pair with Ramin Karimloo in the musical sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. The new show entitled, Phantom: Love Never Dies, that will hit London and Broadway stages in 2010. The story is based on the book by Ben Elton with songs by Webber and lyrics by Glenn Slater (who wrote songs for Mermaid). In the sequel the Phantom lures a married Christine away from "a broken-down" Raoul to New York City's Coney Island. Christine brings her teenage son, Gustave, with her.

As exciting as this sounds, I think a musical of Phantom's caliber can stand on its own for eternity without need of a sequel. I fear this might dilute some of its greatness.

I just don't think you can top this (video of original phantom cast):

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Choreographer Bausch dies aged 68"

Story from

German choreographer Pina Bausch, whose work is credited with revolutionising the language of modern dance, has died aged 68.

The Wuppertal Dance Theatre, where she served as director, said Bausch's "unexpectedly fast" death came five days after being diagnosed with cancer.

Bausch had been preparing to work on what was being called the first 3-D dance feature.

She last appeared on stage at Germany's Wuppertal Opera house on 21 June.

Bausch earned world renown for her avant-garde performances and choreographies mixing dance, sound and fragmented narrative.

She choreographed and staged her own pieces as well as performing in films by Federico Fellini and most recently, Pedro Almodovar's 2002 film Oscar-winner Talk To Her.

Born on 27 July, 1940 in Solingen, Germany, Bausch started her dance studies at the Folkwang School in Essen and trained at the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

She danced at the New American Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera in New York before returning to Germany in 1962 and later became the artistic director and choreographer of the newly founded Wuppertal dance-theatre company in 1973.

There she developed a wholly original body of work, creating a new form of dance theatre based on the German expressionist tradition.

She was known for her extravagant staging - in Nelken (1982), 21 dancers, four professional stunt men and four Alsatian dogs performed on a stage covered with thousands of pink carnations, while in Palermo, Palermo (1989) dancers picked their way through dust and debris.

Bausch crafted more than 30 productions for the company, many of which travelled the world from Europe to Asia and the United States.

The choreographer continued to perform as a dancer in her 60s, last visiting the UK in 2008, when she presented her seminal works, Cafe Muller and The Rite of Spring at London's Sadler's Wells.

Alistair Spalding, artistic director of Sadler's Wells, said: "She was an artist of the kind that the world is only blessed with from time to time.

"Her repertoire of works has inspired generations of audiences and artists with an impact that is hard to overestimate."

Bausch had been due to present a performance of the The Seven Deadly Sins at the Chekhov International Theatre Festival in Moscow this month.

She is survived by her husband Ronald and their son, Rolf. Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.