DANCE ON | ENSEMBLE - STORY - MERCE CUNNINGHAM
Sapporo, by Toshi Ichiyanagi, performed by Mattef Kuhlmey and.... (tbc)
assistant to the director
DANCE ON / DIEHL+RITTER
STORY is presented as part of the Cunningham Centennial celebration.
DANCE ON is an initiative by DIEHL+RITTER gUG funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.
23 August 2019,
Tanz im August, Volksbühne, Berlin
approx. 35 minutes
seasons 19/20, 20/21
depending, approx. 10 - 13 pax
BERLIN STORY - A RE-IMAGINING OF STORY
Based on the original STORY as created in 1963 by Merce Cunningham, an indeterminate work reconfigured for each show using both chance procedures and in-performance decision making. Additional choreographic material developed by the Dance On Ensemble under the direction of Daniel Squire.
“Story” was first performed by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company on July 24, 1963 at the University of California, Los Angeles. During the sixteen months it remained in the company’s repertory, it was performed 48 times in 41 different venues. According to Cunningham, “the title does not refer to any implicit or explicit narrative, but to the fact that each spectator may interpret the events in his own way.”
The structure of “Story” was indeterminate. It was made up of 18 sections – solos, duets, trios, and larger units – which could be done in any order. Within each section, the dancers could make choices about the space, time and order of the movement. Any or all of the sections could be used in a given performance. The overall duration of “Story” varied from as short as 15 to as long as 40 minutes.
The set and costumes were similarly variable. Robert Rauschenberg constructed a new set from material he found in or near the theater on the day of each performance. For the costumes, he collected an assortment of garments to be worn over a basic outfit of leotards and tights. The dancers were free to wear whatever garments they chose, and to change as often as they wished. The music, by Toshi Ichiyanagi, was also indeterminate, leaving the players free to make choices about instrumentation and duration of sounds that insured variability from performance to performance.
The archival record of “Story” is intriguing, but limited. There is only one recording of the dance, a kinescope of a 1964 live telecast in Helsinki, Finland. This recording represents one possible outcome of the indeterminate structure, but it does not capture the full range of material or the spectrum of choices the performers were making. Merce Cunningham’s choreographic notes provide additional information, as do anecdotal accounts. But certain elements and aspects of the dance remain unknown.
Given these circumstances, a typical reconstruction of “Story” is not possible. The Dance On Ensemble has, instead, undertaken a re-imagining of the piece. Drawing on archival resources, Daniel Squire, an experienced stager of Merce Cunningham’s work, has taught the movement and options that are known, and guided the dancers to invent new material to be integrated into the indeterminate structure. Similarly, Patrick Lauckner will create lighting designs in keeping with the original concepts and spirit of Story, while Berlin artist John Bock has taken on the role of Robert Rauschenberg offering ready made constructions along with other variable and changing art works to engage with. Toshi Ichiyanagi’s Sapporo performed by Rabih Mroué, Mattef Kuhlmey and Tobias Weber completes the work. The result, “Berlin Story”, reexamines and reanimates a dance last presented 55 years ago.
PERFORMERS BERLIN STORY (August 2019) / dancers Ty Boomershine, Emma Lewis, Gesine Moog, Miki Orihara, Tim Persent,
Marco Volta / musicians Mattef Kuhlmey, Rabih Mroué, Tobias Weber / artist John Bock
PERFORMERS PARIS STORY (October 2019) / dancers Ty Boomershine, Anna Herrmann, Emma Lewis, Jone San Martin, Marco Volta / musician Mattef Kuhlmey / artist Davide Balula
The DANCE ON | ENSEMBLE was founded in 2015 by the Berlin-based cultural non-profit organisation Diehl+Ritter as part of the Dance On initiative that celebrates the artistic excellence of dancers aged 40+ and explores the relationship between dance and age both on stage and in society. Working with internationally renowned choreographers and directors including among others Rabih Mroué, Deborah Hay, Lucinda Childs and Jan Martens, the Dance On Ensemble is developing a repertoire of ground-breaking and challenging contemporary dance works. Its aim is to create a solid base for a rich and ambitious future repertoire for dancers 40+.
As a member of the Dance On Ensemble since the beginning of the project, Ty Boomershine is responsible for its artistic direction since 2019. Further members of the Dance On Ensemble are: Gesine Moog, Emma Lewis, Tim Persent, Miki Orihara, Christine Kono, Anna Herrmann, Marco Volta, Candas Bas, Lia Witjes Poole and Jone San Martin – all of them are professional dancers between the ages 43 to 71 who have danced in leading companies, among them Lucinda Childs Dance, Ballett Frankfurt, Martha Graham Dance Company and Cullberg Ballet.
DANCE ON has created strong alliances with co-production partners – on a national and international level, among them Kampnagel Hamburg, tanzhaus nrw, Berliner Ensemble, Sadlers Wells London, Holland Dance Festival, ONASSIS STEGI Athens, Belgrade Dance Festival, and ADC - Association pour la Danse Contemporaine Genève. These alliances will ensure the DANCE ON concept is implemented sustainably and make an active contribution to establishing a dance repertoire 40+.