Questo sito non supporta completamente il tuo browser. Ti consigliamo di utilizzare Edge, Chrome, Safari o Firefox.

Remembering Merce

Merce Cunningham would have turned 100 in 2019, a centennial that’s seen institutions around the world flock to commemorate the prodigious American choreographer. There have been exhibitions, seminars, master classes and of course performances, including the ambitious “Night of 100 Solos,” commissioned by the Merce Cunningham Trust and featuring 75 artists dancing in tandem across three cities.


Compagnie Amala Dianor, CCN-Ballet de Lorraine: “Somewhere in the Middle of Infinity” / “For Four Walls” / “Sounddance”


Linbury Theatre, London, UK, October 24, 2019


Sara Veale

CCN-Ballet de Lorraine in Merce Cunningham's “Sounddance.” Photograph by Laurent Philippe

subscribe to the latest in dance

“Uncommonly intelligent, substantial coverage.”

  • Weekly articles from the world of dance
  • Wide diversity of reviews, interviews, articles & more
  • Support for quality art journalism

Already a paid subscriber? Login

CCN-Ballet de Lorraine recently shared two contributions at London’s Linbury Theatre as part of “The Future Bursts In,” the closing programme of the 2019 Dance Umbrella festival. “For Four Walls” is a new piece inspired by a long-lost ‘dance play,’ while “Sounddance” revives a rapid-fire work from the ’70s. Cunningham created the latter after a nine-week residency with the Paris Opera Ballet, defying the classical rigour he’d encountered with fleet, thorny pivots that tumble off their axis. The piece features a storming score from David Tudor and an ornate drapery that sweeps the cast into its pleats.

The company’s young dancers make a whirlwind entrance, shooting out of the curtain like hornets from a hive. The choreography doesn’t unfold so much as explode, blasting us with taut curves and bounding stag leaps. Motoring against a soundscape of mechanical whirs, they take on a machine-like gait, bobbing on straight, splayed legs. In the edgier sequences they’re beautiful androids firing off a quicksilver waltz. The piece wavers, though, when the group scampers in unison, losing a touch of its elegance.

In “For Four Walls,” Petter Jacobsson and Thomas Caley pay tribute to a theatrical number Cunningham created with John Cage in 1944. There’s a rigorous formalism at work in the tangled movement patterns here, and in the engrossing scale, which trades in both the grand and the intimate. Hulking mirrors multiply the cast into a tangled, unbridled legion. Performers spill in from the wings, flooding the stage with bodies real and reflected. To one side, wreathed in fading light, is Vanessa Wagner barking out notes in a mesmeric piano performance.

CCN-Ballet de Lorraine
CCN-Ballet de Lorraine in “For Four Walls” by Petter Jacobsson and Thomas Caley. Photograph by Laurent Philippe

Despite its upright shapes and slick, muscular cascades, the dancing eschews ostentation: the dancers mostly face the mirrors, greeting us indirectly, and weave their combinations independent of each other. The reflection goes two ways, transmitting the audience’s image in large format upstage, drawing us into the work quite literally. Even the pianist’s domain is manipulated: at one point she exits the stage to make way for a haunting choral interlude. It’s highly abstract but never untethered—a striking tribute to a dancemaker who loved to play with the boundaries of space and time.

A third piece rounds out this programme: “Somewhere in the Middle of Infinity” by the Senegalese choreographer Amala Dianor, who performs in the work alongside Ladji Koné and Pansun Kim. The trio seasons loose, informal textures with high-throttle moves, slowing and quickening their rhythm to a roving soundtrack. There are dashes of hip-hop swagger, jolting Afro-dance and even martial arts as the dancers cast their bodies across various planes, striking multi-level triptychs and dipping into unplumbed pockets of space.

Dianor is especially expressive in a pulsing slide section where the dancers rock to a heartbeat thrum, grabbing at the spaces before them. Another highlight sees the group dole out high kicks and flinging leaps to a swelling electro track. There’s a serene glow to their efforts, even when the contrasting styles don’t quite meld.

Sara Veale

Sara Veale is a London-based writer and editor. She's written about dance for the Observer, the Spectator, DanceTabs, Auditorium Magazine, Exeunt and more. Her first book, Untamed: The Radical Women of Modern Dance, will be published in 2024.



A Danced Legacy
REVIEWS | Cecilia Whalen

A Danced Legacy

A man stands on a dark box facing sideways. He gently shifts his weight from heels to toes, rocking forward and backward. His gaze remains front, but his body never lands anywhere. He is in constant motion: neither here nor there, caught somewhere in between. 

Continua a leggere
Questions that Remain
REVIEWS | Phoebe Roberts

Questions that Remain

To begin her creative process, the legendary German choreographer Pina Bausch often asked her dancers questions. These questions—and further, the thoughts and deeper rumblings they provoked in the dancers—then formed the basis for many of her pieces. 

Continua a leggere
Swans in Seattle
REVIEWS | Rachel Howard

Swans in Seattle

One way to get to know the history of a company is through the “liner notes” of its “Swan Lake” production, and for those of us continuing to build an admiring familiarity with Pacific Northwest Ballet via its digital season offerings, Kent Stowell and Francia Russell’s “Swan Lake” provides an interesting glimpse into PNB prior to Peter Boal’s leadership.

Good Subscription Agency