Merce Cunningham”™s Roaratorio — Disney Concert Hall

Merce Cunningham”™s Roaratorio — Disney Concert Hall

Cathy Kerr, Merce Cunningham. Photo: Delahaye. John Cage Trust.

The late Mercier “Merce” Philip Cunningham (April 16, 1919 – July 26, 2009), an American dancer and choreographer, was at the forefront of the American avant-garde throughout his seventy-year career. He is considered one of the most important choreographers of our time.

Merce Cunningham Dance Company, founded in 1953, forged a distinctive style reflecting Cunningham”™s technique and his radical approach to space, time, and technology. The Company”™s collaborations with groundbreaking artists from all disciplines have redefined the way audiences experience the visual and performing arts.

This weekend ONLY, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, will be the final opportunity to see Cunningham”™s work performed by the dancers that he personally trained. There are three performances only, on June 4th, 5th and 6th, 2010, respectively.

Roaratorio, 1983 Photo: J. Barrington. John Cage Trust

The 2009-2010 season of Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center presents the world premiere of the revival of Merce Cunningham”™s Roaratorio as part of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company”™s Legacy Tour, a final two-year celebration of Cunningham”™s lifetime of artistic achievement and excellence.

About “Roaratorio”

Of all his collaborations, Merce Cunningham”™s work with John Cage, his life partner from the 1940s until Cage”™s death in 1992, had the greatest influence on his practice. Together, Cunningham and Cage proposed a number of radical innovations. The most famous and controversial of these concerned the relationship between dance and music, which they concluded may occur in the same time and space, but should be created independently of one another. The two also made extensive use of chance procedures, abandoning not only musical forms, but narrative and other conventional elements of dance composition””such as cause and effect, and climax and anticlimax. For Cunningham the subject of his dances was always dance itself.

Roaratorio is one of the most ambitious and large-scale Cunningham-Cage collaborations. The work is performed to an original recording of John Cage”™s complex 1979 composition Roaratorio, an Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake. Cage traveled through Ireland recording sounds in places mentioned in Joyce”™s novel, which were later assembled to form an hour-long piece. Using lines from “Finnegans Wake,” Cage wrote “˜mesostics”™ (poems constructed so a vertical phrase intersects lines of horizontal text) on “JAMESJOYCE,” which were read aloud during the performance, and scored parts based on Irish traditional music””jigs, reels, airs, and songs””that are played throughout his recording of the work. Cunningham”™s choreography incorporates motifs on jigs and reels, a “hopping” dance, promenades and strolls, and folk dances that suddenly expand into huge communal circles.

This revival of Roaratorio is a co-commission of the Music Center of Los Angeles County, Festival Montpellier Danse 2010, and Théâtre de la Ville/Festival d”™Automne à Paris.


Dance at the Music Center
The Walt Disney Concert Hall (downtown Los Angeles)
111 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA USA 90012

Dance at the Music Center email: [email protected]
Phone: 213-365-3500

June 4th, 5th — 7.30pm
and 6th – 2pm

Tickets: $25–$105.00, plus booking fee

Tickets for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company are available:

— through Ticketmaster Phone Charge at (800) 982-2787 or call (213) 365-3500
— at all Ticketmaster Outlets and online
— in Person at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office:
135 N. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA – 90012
Information: (213) 972-0711

For groups of 15 or more, call CTG Group Sales at (213) 972-7231.

To purchase a subscription or create your own series, please visit Dance at the Music Center

Artists and Program are subject to change.

Report by Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.


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