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"Winterbranch" In Contexts Essay

2118 words - 8 pages

This essay looks at Winterbranch, choreographed by Merce Cunningham, first performed in Hartford Connecticut, on the 21st of March 1964, accompaniment by La Monte Young and set design by Robert Rauschenberg. By placing Winterbranch in contexts with other art forms at the time, alongside current events of the time it allows me to establish an overall context for the work.By looking at Cunningham's complete chronology, Winterbranch is reasonably early in his career as a whole, Cunningham was only 45years old when he choreographed Winterbranch, his first choreographed piece was presented in 1st of August 1942 and his career still continues today. Looking at 1964 specifically Cunningham created four pieces that year alone, Open Sessions, a solo for Merce Cunningham and set design by Cunningham, Paired, a duet for Cunningham and Viola Farber, a German born dancer and choreographer. She was a founding member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company but who them went on to form her own Viola Farber Dance Company in 1968. Also in 1964 Cunningham choreographed Cross Currents, a trio made for Cunningham, Faber and Carolyn Brown. Cross Current's title can be interpreted literally since that dancers paths cross on several occasions, it also refers the rhythm of the piece that also cross's at various points. www.trockadero.org/Repertory/cross.html quotes Cunningham on saying "there were things when suddenly the rhythms would go off among the three of us, and then we'd come back together at the end"If we look at Cunningham's career after Winterbranch a lot of his choreographies have similar styles to them, with out the harsh music, Cunningham's sets were abstract for example in Travelogue there was floating objects and the dancers costumes could unfold into circles. I feel that although Winterbranch was created quite early in Cunningham's career it was above, what the time of 1964 expected, a lot of Cunningham's work is abstract to say the least I feel that this may be the reason behind the reactions of the audience, whereas if was shown today the audience would have a greater understanding of the work and more readily accept it. Along with Winterbranch being ahead of its time and it being quiet early in Cunningham's career I feel that it has set the standard for the impact of his choreographies on his audiences to come.Now looking at Winterbranch, although I haven't been able to view the dance as a whole from the selected footage I have seen I am able to have my own views on the piece, I feel that it is very different to any other work I've seen from Cunningham. Although I like what I have seen of the piece I do feel the same as ANNA KISSELGOFF of the New York Times, "we have to admit that ''Winterbranch'' performed in bright light looks like a formal exercise in falling and not like the dark, menacing work it usually appears" I feel that it was the set and lighting that made the piece "the dark sinister vibrations it always radiated were still overpowering," as...

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