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Merce Cunningham 1919-2009, La danse en héritage
2012 - Director : Rebois, Marie-Hélène
Choreographer(s) : Cunningham, Merce (United States)
Video producer : Daphnie Production, Arte France, AVRO, Centre Pompidou
Merce Cunningham 1919-2009, La danse en héritage
After the death of Merce Cunningham in 2009, his company prepared its dissolution to let the Merce Cunningham Trust manage the choreographer’s legacy. Marie-Hélène Rebois follows the last tour paying tribute to the man who was undeniably one of the major artists of the 20th century. Alternating rehearsal periods, images from archives, and interviews, her film raises the issue of the transmission of a truly intangible heritage.
It is Merce Cunningham himself who wanted a foundation to take over from the company. Created in 1954, the company has seen several generations of dancers come and go. For this tribute tour through a number of cities world-wide, the last artists to have worked on his choreographies reassemble the emblematic pieces that, from Suite for Five (1956) to CRWDSPCR (1993), illustrate the evolution of his work, in the course of his encounters with the leading musicians and visual artists of his time – Cage, Warhol, Johns, Rauschenberg – and technological breakthroughs – the Life Forms software. In front of Marie-Hélène Rebois’s camera, his close collaborators ask themselves how they can perpetuate a technique entirely turned towards experimentation. As although, after this last tour, many sources – notes, photographs, films, videos- will continue to reveal Cunningham’s constant taste for all that’s new, nothing will replace the dancers’ presence on the stage.
The title for "RainForest" came from Cunningham’s childhood memories of the Northwest, and the rainforest in the Olympic Peninsula. "RainForest" differed from Cunningham’s other pieces in that, with the exception of Cunningham, each of the six dancers performed his or her role, then left the stage and never returned. Andy Warhol agreed to let Cunningham use his installation "Silver Clouds"--a number of Mylar pillows filled with helium, so that they floated freely in the air. The dancers wore flesh-colored leotards and tights, which Jasper Johns (uncredited) cut with a razor blade, to give the costumes a roughened appearance. The music was by David Tudor, and evoked the chirping and chattering of birds and animals.
RainForest was first performed by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company on March 9, 1968 in Buffalo, New York.
Source : Ballet de Lorraine
Born in Centralia, Washington on April 16, 1919, Cunningham began his career as a modern dancer at the age of 20, dancing for six years with the Martha Graham Dance Company. He presented his first recital in 1944, and formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1953. The company was a living canvas for his experimentation and the creation of his unusual pieces.
Over his long career he choregraphed more than 150 pieces and more than 800 Events. Many dancers studied and worked with Cunningham before founding their own companies, among them Paul Taylor, Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs and Karole Armitage ... He collaborated with many artists; his collaboration with John Cage had the most influence on his practice.
Together Cunningham and Cage proposed a series of radical innovations in dance. The most famous and controversial of these dealt with the relationship between dance and music, able to co-exist in the same space and time but needing to be conceived independently of each other.
Cunningham continued to experiment and innovate throughout his life, and he was one of the first to use new technologies in his own art form. He choreographed and taught almost until the day he died, July 26, 2009, and received many awards and accolades. Cunningham’s life and work have inspired the publication of four books and three important exhibitions; several of his pieces have been presented by other prestigious companies such as American Ballet Theatre, the Ballet de Lorraine, the New York City Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, the Rambert Dance Company in London and the White Oak Dance Project.
Source: CCN-Ballet de Lorraine
More information: www.mercecunningham.org
Marie-Hélène Rebois is a French director born in Nancy. Alongside literary studies (literature preparatory studies for “les grandes écoles”, a Master’s in literature, history of art and philosophy) and theatrical training with the director Jean-Marie Villégier and the Festival international de théâtre de Nancy, her home town, Marie-Hélène Rebois produced her first short films and became a filmmaker. In her films, she develops her favourite themes, always related to the expression of social issues and artistic creation, where family sagas, interior journeys, religion, writing, music, painting, opera and dance play a large role.
She collaborated in the educational work of the production department of La Femis from 1992 to 1997. She worked for one year with the Montpellier Danse Festival to produce a film on the history of the festival (Montpellier Danse 1980-2000) and a special evening for Arte (Montpellier Danse 2000, points de vue d'Afrique). This programme received a special mention at the 11th Grand Prix international video danse. In 2003, her film Ribatz, Ribatz ou le Grain du temps was awarded the French selection prize at the Festival international de cinéma de Marseille. She also produced for the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris a film on the analysis of the body in danced movement: Le Geste créateur as well as, for the SACD (Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers), a short film on a circus act Rondeau pour un fardeau, a piece with lifts, together with portraits of the pianist Vanessa Wagner, the choreographer Jean-Claude Gallotta, and the Italian puppeteer Laura Kibel. In Dialogue avec les fauves, broadcast on Arte, she shows just how far man can go in communication with wild animals, with what language and with what gestures. Noces d'or, la mort du chorégraphe, broadcast on France 2, is the last part of the trilogy that Marie-Hélène Rebois imagined and started after the death of the French choreographer Dominique Bagouet (the first two parts were Histoire d'une transmission, So Schnell à l'Opéra, 1999, and Ribatz, Ribatz ou le Grain du temps, 2003). She has since produced three documentaries for Arte: Maguy Marin, la danse cachée; Montpellier Danse, 1980-2010, Zigzag, for the 30 years of the Montpellier Danse Festival and Merce Cunningham, la danse en héritage, where she follows the last tour paying tribute to the man who was one of the leading artists of the 20th century. Alternating rehearsal periods, images from archives, and interviews, her film raises the issue of the transmission of a truly intangible heritage. In 2016, her last film, Dans les pas de Trisha Brown, was selected for the Festival international de cinéma de Marseille.
Sources : Ardèche Image ; Film-documentaire.fr ; CMCA
Merce Cunningham 1919-2009
Choreography : Merce Cunningham
Interpretation : Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Production / Coproduction of the video work : Marie-Hélène Rebois (réalisation), Daphnie Production, Arte France, AVRO, Centre Pompidou
Duration : 56'
Tout près des étoiles - Les Danseurs de l'Opéra de Paris
Tout près des étoiles - Les Danseurs de l'Opéra de Paris (France)
Dance and visual arts
Dance and visual arts
Dance and visual arts have often been inspiring for each other and have influenced each other. This Parcours can not address all the forms of their relations; he only tries to show the importance of plastic creation in some choreographies.