Arts / Cunningham dancers join the ‘masters’

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THE National Gallery of Australia is expanding the parameters of “American Masters” with an international dance residency in collaboration with the Merce Cunningham Trust, which will be running until the end of the week.

After forming the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1954, the late Cunningham radically reconstructed conventional understandings of dance, developing ground-breaking performances in collaboration with leading artists such as Andy Warhol, Bruce Nauman and Roy Lichtenstein, all of whom feature in American Masters.

Merce Cunningham dancers
Older Canberra dance-lovers will recall Cunningham’s extraordinary collaboration, seen in the Concert Hall of Sydney Opera House during 1976, with American artist Robert Rauschenberg, whose work also features in the exhibition.

Now, former Merce Cunningham Company dancer and choreographic expert, Jamie Scott, will work with three hand-picked Australian dancers to rehearse, stage and deliver excerpts from several Merce Cunningham works.

Dancers can be viewed at work in the NGA contemporary galleries as part of the “Art for lunch” open rehearsals from 12.45pm-1.45pm, September 12 to 14.

There’ll also be Merce Cunningham open warm-up classes in the contemporary galleries, from 10am-11am, on Saturday and Sunday, September 15-16.

Most of their staged performances are booked out but there’s a last chance to see a Merce Cunningham Dance Residency performance in “Friday Night Live at the NGA”, celebrating all things “American Masters”, with words, dance and Andy Warhol-inspired food and drink and music by Brass Knuckle Brass Band, 6pm-8pm.

All events are free but bookings are essential to nga.gov.au 

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Helen Musa
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