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Merce Cunningham at 90

Part of the 2009 Spring Season

Apr 16 at 7pm*

Apr 17 & 18 at 7:30pm

Apr 19 at 3pm

*BAM Spring Gala

Merce Cunningham at 90

Merce Cunningham Dance Company

Choreography by Merce Cunningham

Commissioned by BAM

“...he has routinely been described as the world’s greatest choreographer… The dances he has made this millennium suggest, amazingly, that no choreographer alive is more concerned with continuing to extend his range.”

—The New York Times

April 16 marks the 90th birthday of Merce Cunningham—one of the most important choreographers of our time—whose radical approaches to space, time, and technology continue to redefine the way we experience dance. Over the course of his celebrated career, he has forged a distinctive language of movement, illuminating the body’s inherent drama and limitless capacity for change. And as a longtime collaborator of John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns, he has played a leading role in fostering innovation across art forms.

In celebration of his birthday, Merce Cunningham Dance Company returns to BAM with the world premiere of a dazzling evening-length work created in collaboration with and performed live by underground rock legend Sonic Youth, former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, and mixed-media sound composer Takehisa Kosugi. With an intriguing multi-tiered décor by world-renowned architect Benedetta Tagliabue, lighting by Tony and Obie-winning designer Brian MacDevitt, and costumes by Romeo Gigli, this new masterpiece is testament to the boundless imagination of a man who, on the cusp of his ninth decade, still keeps us on our toes.

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House

Running time: 90min with intermission

Subscription tickets: $20, 36, 52, 60

(Full price: $25, 45, 65, 75)

Decor by Benedetta Tagliabue

Lighting by Brian MacDevitt

Costumes by Romeo Gigli

Music composed and performed by:

John Paul Jones

Takehisa Kosugi

Sonic Youth

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Sonic Youth Work With Led Zep Bassist on Dance Piece

SY members also have tons of side stuff going on, as usual


One wonders sometimes, with all the other stuff they've always got going on, if the members of Sonic Youth ever have to remind themselves that they're in Sonic Youth. Like, can you picture Thurston, jamming out with Original Silence, thinking, "Oh, crap, we just signed to Matador! I better call Lee and get my lanky behind to the studio!" Or Kim's hanging out with Yoshimi and Julie Cafritz and realizes she's gotta write a bassline for that pesky other band of hers? There's been a wealth of happenings with the members of Sonic Youth lately, though precious little of it has to do with Sonic Youth proper.

But more about those side gigs in a minute...

Firstly, the four Yoofs managed to get together in the same room recently to collaborate with Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and composer Takehisa Kosugi on a brand new piece of music. The piece will soundtrack a new work by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company that will debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in mid-April, in celebration of choreographer Merce Cunningham's 90th birthday. The Merce Cunningham at 90 piece will be performed on April 16-19. (You might remember the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as being the people who brought Radiohead and Sigur Rós together back in 2003.)

So, yeah. Sonic Youth + Led Zeppelin + dancers = MASSIVE SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM EXPLOSION!!!

Also, that traveling, career-spanning art exhibit, "Sonic Youth Etc.: Sensational Fix" is on display until January 4 in Bolzano, Italy. It'll move to the Kunsthalle in Dusseldorf, Germany from January 31-April 26, Konsthall in Malmo, Sweden May 29-September 6, and Centro Huarte de Arte Contemporaneo in Navarra/Nafarroa, Spain from October 2009 through January 2010.

Other than that, and presumably working on their Matador debut, Sonic Youth as a unit has been pretty quiet recently. Individually, though, they have a hell of a lot going on.

Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label recently offered up an LP from a trio comprised of saxophonist Paul Flaherty, Vampire Belt guitarist (and Thurston's partner in Northampton Wools) Bill Nace, and Thurston himself. The three-track set, Flaherty/Nace/Moore, was crafted last winter, and sports three very amusingly-titled tracks: "Sex", "Drugs" and "Lavender". Northampton Wools promise their debut LP from the label shortly, and Ecstatic Peace will also issue an album by Hat City Initiative, a group featuring Thurston and his brother Gene Moore, as well as a forthcoming collaboration between Thurston and noise god Prurient. Thurston also just issued an ultra-limited edition cassette to Destructive Industries which they call his "most encompassing and introverted work to date". We'd tell you more about it, except it is sold the hell out. Moore also recently interviewed director Spike Jonze for Interview magazine, and introduced a screening of David Bowie videos at NYC's Museum of Modern Art earlier this week.

Moving on, Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley pops up on Spanish singer Christina Rosenvinge's recent album Tu Labio Superior, which was recorded and mixed by Rather Ripped producer John Agnello at Sonic Youth's studio in Hoboken, NJ. Rosenvinge will hit the road in Spain with Shelley, Chris Brokaw, and Jeremy Wilms early next year.

SY guitarist Lee Ranaldo and photographer Leah Singer (his wife) have an art exhibit entitled "Space Within These Lines Not Dedicated" hanging at the Teaching Gallery at Troy, New York's Hudson Valley Community College through December 6. They also have two art shows scheduled for February 2009: ILoveYouIHateYou" at Magasin3 in Stockholm and "Between You & Me" at CNEAI (Centre national de l'estampe et de l'art imprim) in Paris. Ranaldo is also producing a series of three 12" singles by the French band HIFIKLUB, set to be released in 2009. And he shows up in the new documentary film FLicKeR, about artist Brion Gysin's "dream machine."

Posted by Paul Thompson and Amy Phillips on Wed, Dec 3, 2008 at 6:45pm


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