More than half a century separates two choreographers collaborating with rock bands this week. Merce Cunningham throws in with Radiohead and Sigur Rós, who’ll perform live at Tuesday’s opening gala. Cunningham, now in his mid-eighties, will hold a “public pre-performance roll of dice” to decide which half of his new 40-minute Split Sides—one accompanied by each band—will go first, and which decor, costumes, and lighting will be used; there are 32 possible combinations. The bands perform live on opening night; at subsequent shows the company’s musicians will play the bands’ compositions, accompanied by some elements recorded at the premiere. Though Cunningham has used such chance procedures throughout his career (this engagement closes the troupe’s 50th-anniversary season), he rarely makes so many decisions so close to opening night.
The Leverage Group—directed by Ezra Caldwell, a/k/a Daniel, who graduated from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in 1997—collaborates on Walk On with Thomas Bartlett’s indie rock band Doveman. Caldwell, who’s produced some startlingly lovely dance-video fusions in his short choreographic career, has performed internationally with several companies including MOMIX. Working in a genre that defeats much more experienced artists, he combines live and recorded movement in ways that seem almost magical.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 7, 2003