In June 1964 in Vienna, Merce Cunningham staged the first of his legendary “Events”. He would go on to present Events around the world, each combining dance, music and design in a way that was unique to that location, and that performance. They became the great choreographer’s signature works, exemplifying his revolutionary approach to performance-making.
50 years on from the first Event, and five years after Cunningham’s death, Rambert created the Rambert Event in 2014 which was performed at our London home. The Rambert Event featured extracts from pieces of Cunningham’s choreography that have previously appeared in Rambert’s repertory, arranged and staged by former Cunningham dancer and rehearsal assistant Jeannie Steele.
The Rambert Event – in keeping with Cunningham’s practice – featured music and scenic elements that were created separately and only brought together in the moment of performance. The specially commissioned score is by Philip Selway (of Radiohead), Quinta and Adem Ilhan. The set and costumes were based on the Cage series of paintings by world-famous German artist Gerhard Richter.
'A thrilling new encounter with the work ... it's history lived in the present moment and it makes your hair stand on end'
The Cunningham works which have featured in Rambert’s repertoire are:
- Septet (1953, Rambert 1987)
- RainForest (1968, Rambert 2010)
- Sounddance (1975, Rambert 2012)
- Fielding Sixes (1980, Rambert 1983)
- Doubles (1984, Rambert 1990)
- August Pace (1989, Rambert 1998)
- Beach Birds (1991, Rambert 2000)
- Touchbase (created for Rambert 1992)
- Ground Level Overlay (1995, Rambert 2001)
- Pond Way (1998, Rambert 2006)
‘Events consist of complete dances, excerpts of dances, and often new sequences arranged for the particular performance and place, with the possibility of several separate activities happening at the same time – to allow for not so much an evening of dances as the experience of dance.’
- Merce Cunningham
- Jeannie Steele
- Philip Selway, Adem Ilhan, Quinta
- Gerhard Richter
The Rambert Event is presented with the permission and cooperation of the Merce Cunningham Trust. The original production was made possible by Rambert’s New Work Commissioning Fund with the support of Cockayne – Grants for the Arts, a donor-advised fund of The London Community Foundation.