Dance: One foot in the past
MERCE CUNNINGHAM BARBICAN LONDON
Thursday 08 October 1998
The first of two triple bills began with the 1995 piece Windows, in which the dancers stride stiff-legged to the faintly foetal blips of Emanuel Dimas de Melo Pimenta's Microcosmos. Every individual moment was beautiful but the overall effect was wholesomely bland.
The next course had far more flavour. Cunningham had rustled up one of his celebrated Events, in which the back catalogue is raided to create a fresh perspective on old works. These Events exemplify the 79-year- old choreographer's philosophy that his dances are all cut from the same seamless creative fabric. The breadth of repertoire drawn upon and the last-minute nature of many of the combinations also shows off the awesome versatility of his dancers. They revived the delicious 1964 Winterbranch with enormous wit and style.
Events are, by their very nature, surprising in content and celebratory in tone and that excitement was shared here by the audience which went into the second interval in buoyant, rather skittish mood. A technical delay extended the wait by 20 minutes, which provoked a small drama. A bad-tempered American punter petulantly shouted "Stop coughing! It's an English disease!" Silly man. They began to do it on purpose. Others joined in the fun and soon the stalls sounded like breakfast-time with the Brontes.
The rise of the curtain provided an instant cure. Cunningham's fascination with getting his dancers to move in challenging and unfamiliar ways prompted him to give Rei Kawakubo free rein with costumes for the 1997 work Scenario. The result is a bizarre collection of lycra tubes grotesquely distended by various prosthetic humps - like a gathering of inept shoplifters in a pillow shop. These gingham goitres became a rather irritating distraction. Cunningham is justly famous for encouraging a sexy three-way swing between music, design and dance, but somebody has to be on top and it ought to be dance.
Booking: 0171-638 8891. To Sat
Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
- 5 Zayn Malik quits One Direction: Hundreds of workers request compassionate leave following band member's exit
Jeremy Clarkson to host BBC's Have I Got News For You despite Top Gear exit
A historian gave the most British look of despair when someone screwed up Richard III's birthday at his reburial
Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
Kay Burley 'bias' against Ed Miliband prompts 130 complaints to Ofcom
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'