Location: Floor Three, Susan and John Hess Family Theater
Performance by dancers from the Merce Cunningham Trust Fellowship Program, reconstructed and staged by Jennifer Goggans
First performed at the Thirteenth American Dance Festival in the summer of 1960, Crises was described by Cunningham as “an adventure in togetherness.” Choreographed for four women and one man, the dance focused on physical contact between the dancers. The physical entanglements came both through holding each other and being held, and through elastic bands, worn around a wrist, an arm, a waist or a leg, which connected the dancers in various positions. Cage noted, “This is a dramatic, though not a narrative, dance concerned with decisive moments in the relationship between a man and four women.” Conlon Nancarrow’s musical score reinforced the dance’s harsh atmosphere with an assortment of jangling rhythms, and Rauschenberg’s costumes were leotards in various shades of red, evoking the romance of the piece.
― David Vaughan, from the Merce Cunningham Trust Dance Capsules.
Part of Anywhere in Time: A Conlon Nancarrow Festival, co-curated by Dominic Murcott and Jay Sanders, Curator and Curator of Performance.
2 pm, 7 pm
2 pm, 4 pm
Tickets for this program are required, and include the cost of admission ($22 adults, $18 seniors, free for members). Due to limited capacity, visitors are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance. Tickets may still be purchased online until two hours before the program begins. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.
Choreography by Merce Cunningham
Crises is performed courtesy of the Merce Cunningham Trust. The performers are freelance professional dancers who study Cunningham Technique® and repertory through the Merce Cunningham Trust Fellowship Program.
Merce Cunningham (1919–2009) was a leader of the American avant- garde throughout his seventy-year career and is considered one of the most important choreographers of our time. With an artistic career distinguished by constant experimentation and collaboration with groundbreaking artists from every discipline, Cunningham expanded the frontiers of dance and contemporary visual and performing arts. Cunningham’s lifelong passion for innovation also made him a pioneer in applying new technologies to the arts. Born in Centralia, Washington on April 16, 1919, Cunningham began his professional dance career at twenty with a six-year tenure as a soloist in the Martha Graham Dance Company. In 1944 he presented his first solo show and in 1953 formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as a forum to explore his groundbreaking ideas. Together with John Cage, his partner in life and work, Cunningham proposed a number of radical innovations, chief among them that dance and music may occur in the same time and space, but should be created independently of one another. They also made extensive use of chance procedures, abandoning musical forms, narrative, and other conventional elements of dance composition. For Cunningham the subject of his dances was always dance itself. An active choreographer and mentor to the arts world throughout his life, Cunningham earned some of the highest honors bestowed in the arts, including the National Medal of Arts (1990), the MacArthur Fellowship (1985), Japan’s Praemium Imperiale (2005), and the British Laurence Olivier Award (1985). Always forward-thinking, Cunningham established the Merce Cunningham Trust in 2000 and developed the precedent-setting Legacy Plan prior to his death, to ensure the preservation of his artistic legacy.
Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008) was born in Port Arthur, Texas. The creative relationships and methods that Rauschenberg developed at Black Mountain College, near Asheville, North Carolina, and at the Art Students League of New York proved formative to his almost sixty-year career, one that was characterized by an irreverent and innovative approach to images, mediums, and disciplines. Rauschenberg realized his first Combine in 1954, eschewing established artistic boundaries and hierarchies; he introduced the materials of everyday life while combining aspects of painting and sculpture. Collaborations with composer John Cage and dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham spurred Rauschenberg to add performance to his wide-ranging palette, including costume and set designs for the Cunningham and Paul Taylor dance companies. His affiliation with the Judson Dance Theater allowed Rauschenberg to choreograph his first performance, Pelican (1963), and it led to a lifelong collaboration with dancer/choreographer Trisha Brown for whose performances Rauschenberg designed costumes, lighting, sets, and on occasion, music.
Rebecca Hadley was born and raised in Ontario, California and lived there until attending Barnard College in 2008. While at Barnard, she performed in works by Jodi Melnick, Will Rawls, David Parker, and Ana Isabel Keilson. Since graduating in 2012 she has had the pleasure of performing in work by Pat Catterson, Garnet Henderson, David Parker, and Kirsten Schnittker. She is grateful to the Merce Cunningham Trust for the opportunities it has provided to study Cunningham Technique and perform Cunningham’s works through classes and workshops at New York City Center. Since the summer of 2012, Rebecca has participated in more than 10 workshops, learning and performing excerpts and full works, including Variations V, Native Green, Pictures, and most recently, Doubles.
Vanessa Knouse, originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, graduated from University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a Bachelor in Fine Arts. While at UNCSA she was introduced to Cunningham Technique by Brenda Daniels, and in her sophomore year she was cast in Merce Cunningham’s Beach Birds, staged by Patricia Lent. In the summer of 2013 she attended the Story and Exchange workshops, and since then has taken part in as many Merce Cunningham Trust workshops as possible. Vanessa is currently choreographing a solo for WAXworks and working with Ellen Cornfield on an upcoming performance in Bryant Park.
Tess Montoya was raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she began her training at the National Dance Institute of New Mexico. She graduated from Point Park University with a BA in Dance. Montoya has performed with Megan Kendzior and Daniel Gwirtzman and is currently working with Daniel Roberts and Stephen Petronio. In the fall of 2012, she began participating in Merce Cunningham Trust repertory workshops including reconstructions of Pond Way, Native Green, Ocean, Crises, and Doubles.
Benny Olk is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. After graduating from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, he began studying Cunningham Technique and repertory through the Merce Cunningham Trust, performing in studio showings of works such as Ocean, How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run, Crises, Pond Way, and Sounddance. He is grateful to be involved in Alla Kovgan’s film project CUNNINGHAM 3D. He has also worked with choreographers Moriah Evans, Sarah Michelson, and Daniel Roberts, and performed in the immersive dance-theater piece KOM HIT at the American Swedish Institute with Sally Rousse and Noah Bremer. He is excited to be part of the upcoming tour of Available Light with the Lucinda Childs Dance Company.
Staging and Production:
Jeffrey Wirsing (Costume Reconstruction) has been working in the arts all of his career, with dance costuming, with art conservation in Italy, hand printed fabrics, and many other disciplines. Mr. Wirsing began working in New York was an assistant to the designer Halston, working on costumes for Martha Graham's interpretation of The Rite of Spring in 1984, which began a collaboration with the Graham company for over twenty years.Over the past thirty years he has worked with many major choreographers and for the past eight years has been working in film and television as a costume ager, restorer and fabric dyer on such productions as Martin Scorsese's HBO period hit series Boardwalk Empire and currently on a new Scorsese series in production based on rock and roll in the 1970's.
Carrie Wood (Production Consultant) has been the lighting designer for a diverse group of artists including Katie Workum, Reggie Wilson, Walter Dundervill , Melanie Maar, Luciana Achugar,Sarah Michelson, Daniel Gwirtzman, Michael Lluberes, and many more. She joined Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 2009 as the assistant production manager for their final Legacy Tour. She then production managed Cunningham’s final performance at the Park Avenue Armory. She also is one of the lighting designers for Cipriani’s 55 Wall Street event venue. Carrie’s design work has been seen on both international and national stages including BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, Yerba Buena Center for the arts, Walker Art Center, Kasino am Schwarzenbergplatz, and New York Live Arts. Carrie is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts.