Baryshnikov to join Merce Cunningham Dance Company for benefit at REDCAT

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Two of the dance world’s great artists will share a stage -- one in person, the other through the troupe he founded more than half a century ago -- when Mikhail Baryshnikov joins the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for a benefit performance June 7 at REDCAT, Cal Arts downtown theater.

The event will coincide with Cunningham Dance’s previously announced June 4-6 appearances at Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of the Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center series.

The June 7 show will benefit REDCAT and the Cunningham Dance Foundation, which is working to preserve the legacy of the iconoclastic choreographer, who died at 90 last year.

Cunningham’s company is on a two-year international tour that is designed to showcase seminal works from the choreographer’s career and give audiences a final chance to see the dancers he trained. The concluding performance will be on Dec. 31, 2011, in New York, the company’s home base. The group will disband after the tour.


At Disney Hall, the troupe will present a new revival of the 1983 ‘Roaratorio,’ a collaboration between Cunningham and his life partner, John Cage, in which Cunningham’s choreography is performed to an original recording of Cage’s 1979 composition ‘Roaratorio, an Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake.’

At REDCAT, Baryshnikov and the company will perform excerpts from Cunningham’s works, including the 1971 solo ‘Loops,’ which will feature the 62-year-old master dancer.

Baryshnikov and Cunningham performed together in the duet ‘Occasion Piece’ in 1999. After Cunningham died, Baryshnikov asked Cunningham company’s executive director Trevor Carlson how he could help the company keep its founder’s memory alive. From there, says Carlson, the idea of a benefit performance developed.

[Updated 6 a.m. Monday: REDCAT says tickets are extremely limited. For information about reserving a seat, email]

The event is a perfect fit for REDCAT, says the theater’s executive director, Mark Murphy. ‘We are focused on contemporary art and performance, and here are two significant figures in the evolution of dance and art. Cunningham was a bold innovator with a pure, passionate vision. Baryshnikov, while most famous as a ballet star, with his White Oak company and his arts center has championed some of the most influential emerging artists in dance and performance.’ The June 7 program also will include the world premiere screening of ‘With Merce,’ an intimate look at the choreographer by filmmaker and video artist Charles Atlas, who worked with Cunningham for more than 30 years.

Besides the benefit at REDCAT, other programs planned as part of the Cunningham company’s L.A. appearances include:

-- ‘Merce on Film,’ on May 23, a screening of three short films about Cunningham’s collaborations with Atlas, Cage and artist Robert Rauschenberg, at the Museum of Contemporary Art

-- ‘The Legacy of Merce,’ on June 3, a conversation between Carlson and Bonnie Brooks, chair of Columbia College Chicago’s dance program, as part of MOCA’s Art Talk series

-- ‘Family Movement Workshops,’ a reservation-only event for ages 6 and up on June 6 at Disney Hall

-- Karen Wada


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