The Importance of a Choreographer

Posted: Feb. 4th, 2013  |  By Michael Pearse
Pieces by Merce Cunningham
Constance Mensh

A choreographer is a sort of artist who puts together a performance from scratch, sort of how a painter starts of only with a blank canvas and some colors. The Philadelphia Museum of Art featured a piece on 5 men which was pulled together by a choreographer. Against all odds he found various similarity among the men being honored and pulled together a great performance.

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s exhibition celebrating Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns — which closed on Monday — was in several ways a triumph. The show, called “Dancing Around the Bride,” successfully illustrated many (by no means all) of the connections among these five very different men — still provocative, still rightly controversial — and proved stimulating, informative, enlightening.

The exhibition also featured dance elements, which, as the weeks passed, acquired gathering importance. I made 12 visits to watch different items of Cunningham choreography, all danced by former members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company on a stage erected in the middle of the galleries.

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