RDT Presents Vanguard


October 6-8, 2011
Jeanne Wagner Theatre
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
Jeanne Wagner Theatre 7:30 pm

October 6 | Community Night - All tickets $15
October 7-8| Tickets $30 in advance* ($15 seniors/students)
Tickets available through ArtTix | 801-355-ARTS | www.artTix.org
*Tickets will increase by $5 on the night of the performance.


FREE Symposium: The Revolutionaries

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 @ 7:00 PM
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
Click here to learn more.




For Sapphire Club Members only:
Saturday, October 8
Wine & Cheese party with Pre-concert lecture: From Dada to the Avant Garde
Rose Room
6:45-7:20 pm

Featuring the revolutionary work of America's groundbreaking leaders of the Avant-Garde and Post-modern dance movement, Merce Cunningham and Yvonne Rainer.

Pieces include:

Scramble (1968) by Merce Cunningham
Sets by Frank Stella
Music by Toshi Ichiyanagi

Scramble was first performed by Merce Cunningham Dance Company on 23 July 1967 at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Illinois.

Scramble was choreographed by Merce Cunningham in 1967.  The dance came relatively early in a choreographic career that spanned six decades, and yet already many of the features that characterize Cunningham’s work are evident – the separation of the dance and the music, the exploration of spatial relationships, the juxtaposition of diverse rhythms and qualities, and the celebration of movement divorced from narrative intent.  Cunningham was not interested in telling a story, he was interested in physical movement.  As he once wrote, “When I dance it means:  this is what I’m doing.”

Scramble consists of eighteen sections of varying lengths.  Originally made for eight dancers, including Cunningham himself, the cast of Scramble expanded as the company grew.  Some sections include all or most of the cast, while other sections are made for one, two, or three dancers.

The eighteen sections can be done in different orders on different occasions.  Not all 18 sections are used each time.  Typically, a performance of Scramble would use 12 to 15 sections and last about 20 minutes.

The sections have simple, descriptive names:  for example, Fast Dance, Slow Walks, 3 Men, Slow Trio, Fall/Leap.  While many of the sections have explicit timing and spacing, several of the group sections are indeterminate – that is, the dancers have specific movement to do, but are permitted to travel freely through the space, and, in certain case, make choices about what they do.

The music for Scramble was a composition by Toshi Ichiyanagi entitled Activities for Orchestra.  At the request of the composer, an archival recording of a live performance by John Cage, David Behrman, David Tudor, Gordon Mumma, Malcolm Goldstein, and Max Neuhaus will be played.
The costumes and set, originally designed by Frank Stella, have been recreated in consultation with the Cunningham Dance Foundation using video, photographs, and archival records.

Merce Cunningham archival


Trio A (1966) by Yvonne Rainer

Trio A was a four-and-one-half-minute phrase originally performed as a set of three simultaneous solos by Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, and David Gordon at the Judson Church on January 10, 1966. It was then called The Mind is a Muscle, Part I.

In 1966, Rainer made Trio A wanting to create a workmanlike attitude of task performance.  She set out to systematically test her concerns regarding the distribution of energy, phrasing, and repetition (both as organizational strategies and as agents of style).
She was concern with, “ found movement, equality of parts, repetition, neutral performance, task-like activity, singular action, event, and human scale.
Violating nearly every cannon of classic dance conventions (both ballet and modern), Rainer brought classical lines and gestures into conflict with their own subversions, to create an entirely new mode of dance. After Trio A, the choreographic terrain looked different. The boundaries of dance had burst open. Certain actions, certain postures, certain attitudes now became possible, and eventually familiar, parts of the vocabulary.”
                                                                          (Sally Banes, Terpsichore in Sneakers)

Trio A

Chair Pillow (1969) by Yvonne Rainer

Chair-Pillow is one section from Continuous Project- Altered Daily. Most sections of this dance are task oriented and include the use of different kinds of props handled in a prescribed way, precisely on the beat in a casual manner.




GAMUT (2011) by RDT Dancers

Note:  RDT dancers were inspired by a composition class taught by Neil Greenberg, a former member of the Merce Cunningham Company.  They have used compositional devices employed by Cunningham and many of his followers to develop a performance event called GAMUT.

One principle that John Cage and Merce Cunningham used was to create what they called a “gamut” or a collection of materials from which they would make a piece. 
Chance sometimes (but not always) entered into Merce’s choreographic process.  Many people mistakenly believe a dance created by chance operations is improvised or haphazard. Actually, just the opposite is true. Chance is one of the most concrete and objective procedures by which art can be created.

A choreographer may make conscious decisions about the movement content, but might use chance to determine the duration, speed, density, spatial orientation, sequence, and sometimes the phrasing of the movement.

Indeterminacy, a wholly different concept, enters the process when the dancers are allowed to make certain choices of their own during the performance.   For instance, dancers would be given a certain movement sequence but might have the freedom to choose where they traveled or how fast or slow they performed the movement.

RDT’s GAMUT  offered each  dancer the opportunity to develop a movement section.  Some are designed to be performed in a very exact manner and some give the performers choices or tasks to perform on stage.

The order of the sections was determined by chance and the music was likewise assembled.  The process was game-like. While RDT enjoyed more communal interaction than Cunningham employed, it offered the dancers the opportunity to develop choreography objectively with “empty hands” and encouraged them to go beyond  heritage and habits to welcome the unknown.




Merce CunninghamMERCE 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.  Through much of his life, he was also one of the greatest American dancers. With an artistic career distinguished by constant innovation, Cunningham expanded the frontiers not only of dance, but also of contemporary visual and performing arts. His collaborations with artistic innovators from every creative discipline have yielded an unparalleled body of American dance, music, and visual art.

Of all his collaborations, 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.

Born in Centralia, Washington on April 16, 1919, Cunningham began his professional modern dance career at 20 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. Over the course of his career, Cunningham choreographed more than 150 dances and over 800 “Events.” Dancers who trained with Cunningham and have gone on to form their own companies include Paul Taylor, Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Karole Armitage, Foofwa d’Immobilité, and Jonah Bokaer.          

Cunningham’s lifelong passion for exploration and innovation made him a leader in applying new technologies to the arts. He began investigating dance on film in the 1970s, and choreographed using the computer program DanceForms during the latter part of his career. He explored motion capture technology to create décor for BIPED (1999), and his interest in new media led to the creation of Mondays with Merce (www.merce.org/mondayswithmerce.html). This webcast series provides a never-before-seen look at the Company and Cunningham’s teaching technique with video of advanced technique class, Company rehearsal, archival footage, and interviews with current and former Company members, choreographers, and collaborators.

An active choreographer and mentor to the arts world until his death at the age of 90, Cunningham earned some of the highest honors bestowed in the arts. Among his many awards are the National Medal of Arts (1990) and the MacArthur Fellowship (1985). He also received the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award in 2009, Japan’s Praemium Imperiale in 2005, the British Laurence Olivier Award in 1985, and was named Officier of the Legion d’Honneur in France in 2004. Cunningham’s life and artistic vision have been the subject of four books and three major exhibitions, and his works have been presented by groups including the Ballet of the Paris Opéra, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, White Oak Dance Project, and London’s Rambert Dance Company.

Cunningham passed away in his New York City home on July 26, 2009.  Always forward-thinking, Cunningham developed the precedent-setting Legacy Plan prior to his death to guide his Company and ensure the preservation of his artistic legacy.

YVONNE RAINER (1934- ), choreographer and filmmaker, was born in 1934 in San Francisco, California, and moved to New York City in 1957 to study theater and modern dance at the Martha Graham School and later with Merce Cunningham. Rainer was one of the organizers of the Judson Dance Theater, a focal point for vanguard activity in the dance world throughout the 1960s, and formed her own company for a brief time after the Judson performances ended. Rainer was particularly concerned with the investigation of everyday objects and activities. Her choreography stripped dance of its emotion, symbolism and narrative, producing a raw series of physical movements. Many of the elements she employed in the early 1970s--such as repetition, patterning, tasks, and games--later became standard features of modern dance. Her best-known dance, "Trio A," is a section of a larger work called "The Mind is a Muscle." She has choreographed more than 40 concert works and has completed seven feature-length films. In 1990 she was a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation award.



FRANK STELLA 1936–, American artist, b. Malden, Mass. In his early “black paintings” Stella exhibits the precision and rationality that characterized minimalism, employing parallel angular stripes to emphasize the rectangular shape of his large canvases. His innovative and influential use of irregularly shaped canvases first appeared in his metallic series in 1960. Later examples of his work stress color in decorative curved motifs. In the 1970s and 80s, Stella abandoned the studied, minimalist aesthetic in favor of a more improvised, dynamic, and dramatic idiom in mixed-media. During that time he abandoned flat paintings and instead created large, jutting, multipart, three-dimensional painting-constructions that often incorporate bright colors, enlarged versions of French curves, and lively brushstroke patterns.

Stella's work became fully three-dimensional in the early 1990s in a series of dense abstract sculptures composed of found and cast elements in stainless steel and bronze. These unpainted and often large-scale metal wall constructions, with their tangled, layered, and looping shapes, project an air of vibrant spontaneity. One of his most important and monumental sculptures is Prince of Homburg (1995–2001), installed outside the National Gallery of Art's East Building, Washington, D.C. Throughout his career, Stella also has been a prolific printmaker. The Whitney Museum, New York City, has several of his paintings, and his works are included in numerous museum and corporate collections worldwide.

See Frank Stella: An Illustrated Biography (1996) by S. Guberman; studies by W. Rubin (1980), L. Rubin, ed. (1986), and A. Pacquement (1988).

TOSHI ICHIYANAGI was born in 1933 in Kobe, Japan, studied composition with Kishio Hirao and John Cage, and piano with Chieko Hara, Barnhard Weiser and Beveridge Webster. After attending the Julliard School of Music and the New School for Social Research in New York between1954-60, he returned to Japan in 1961, and introduced many new musical concepts, including Cage's idea of indeterminacy, exerting a strong influence on the direction of Japanese contemporary music.

As one of the leading composers in Japan, Ichiyanagi has composed in most genres of music: operas, orchestral, chamber and instrumental works. Among his major works are his Violin Concerto "Circulating Scenery" (1983), Piano Concerto No.2 "Winter Portrait" (1987) and Opera "Momo" (1995), based on a novel by Michael Ende. While composing these large-scale pieces, he also became known for his compositions using Japanese traditional instruments such as sho and gagaku ensemble. Many of them have been performed throughout the world, especially by the Tokyo International Music Ensemble - an organization where he serves as Artistic Director.

Ichiyanagi won the Elizabeth A. Coolidge Prize (1954) and the Serge Koussevitzky Prize (1956) during his studies in New York.  He was also a member of Fluxus.  Since his return to Japan, he has received numerous awards including the prestigious Nakajima Kenzo Award (1984), the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of the French Government (1985) and Grand Prix of the Kyoto Music Award (1989). In 1990, he was awarded the Otaka Prize for the fourth time, for his unique symphony "Berlin Renshi".

His recent works include "Coexistence" for ondes martenot and orchestra (1996), Symphony No.5 "Time Perspective"(1997), "Coexistence" for orchestra (1997) and "Mirage" for shakuhachi and piano (1998).

PATRICIA LENT was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (1984-1993) and White Oak Dance Project (1994-1996). She has been on the faculty of the Merce Cunningham Studio for over 20 years, teaching technique classes and workshops, and staging repertory. Staging projects include the reconstruction of Fabrications for MCDC’s 50th Anniversary, Duets for North Carolina School of the Arts, Scramble for Laban, MinEvent for Cornish College of the Arts, and Roaratorio for MCDC’s Legacy Tour. She is the Director of Repertory Licensing for the Cunningham Dance Foundation, and a trustee of the Merce Cunningham Trust.


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