Merce Cunningham: The Events at Dia Beacon Screening and Panel Discussion – The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Daniel Squire and Brandon Collwes, photo ©Anna Finke
Music MCM
Music MCM

New York, NY, February 26, 2024 – The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will present the world theatrical premiere of Merce Cunningham: The Events at Dia Beacon, a 40-minute film drawing on footage from the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s unique, site-specific Events at Dia Beacon in 2008 and 2009. The screening will take place on Monday, April 8, at 6pm, at the Library’s Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center.

From 2007 to 2009, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company presented a series of Cunningham’s Events in the galleries of Dia Beacon. This film, edited by award-winning film director/editor Daniel Madoff, is a compilation from five of these site-specific stagings with footage from the dress rehearsals and live performances.

Says producer Nancy Dalva: “The film creates an entirely new cinematic event with linkages revealing the choreographer’s idiosyncratic methodology and acute sensitivity to environment. Cunningham arranged these multi-stage performances after careful site visits, taking into account the space, the artworks, the natural light, and the specific properties of each gallery, or, as he called it, ‘situation.’ Of Richard Serra’s ‘Torqued Ellipses,’ he said, ‘It was like dancing next to the pyramids.’ The music, commissioned for each space, was live.”

After the screening, Nancy Dalva will chat with director Daniel Madoff, Jennifer Goggans, Merce Cunningham Trust Program Director and guest artist with Gandini Juggling, and choreographer duo Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener. All were members of Merce Cunningham Dance Company during the Events at Dia.

This world premiere event, free to the public, fittingly takes place at the Library for the Performing Arts, where the Jerome Robbins Dance Division preserves the Merce Cunningham archives.

Advance registration for the screening is required. To register, visit: discussion-tickets-775813407787

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Bruno Walter Auditorium, is located at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza (entrance at 111 Amsterdam Avenue, between 64th and 65th Streets), New York, NY 10023.

Merce Cunningham (1919–2009) was a celebrated dancer and choreographer renowned for his groundbreaking work and his profound influence on generations of dancemakers and artists. Born in Centralia, WA, he attended the Cornish School in Seattle, where he was introduced to the work of Martha Graham and met the composer John Cage who would become his closest collaborator and life partner. In 1939, after relocating to New York City, Cunningham began a six-year tenure as a soloist in the Graham company, and soon began presenting his own choreography. In the summer of 1953, during a teaching residency at Black Mountain College, Cunningham formed a dance company to explore his innovative ideas. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company remained in continuous operation until its closure in 2011, with Cunningham as artistic director until his death in 2009. Over the course of his 70-year career he choreographed 180 dances and more than 700 Events, collaborated with such renowned artists as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, David Tudor, and Christian Wolff, and earned some of the highest honors bestowed in the arts.

Nancy Dalva is a writer, documentarian, and the Scholar in Residence of the Merce Cunningham Trust. She produced and wrote the web series Mondays with Merce, and produced the videos in the Mondays with Merce Film Library—all available on the Trust’s YouTube channel. She made her debut as an independent producer with “The Event at REDCAT, Mikhail Baryshnikov with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.” This evening she is delighted to bring “The Events at Dia Beacon” to the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, home to the Merce Cunningham Archive. She wants to especially thank Linda Murray, Anne H. Bass Curator, Jerome Robbins Dance Division, and the wonderful Dance Division staff for making the evening possible.

Daniel Madoff is a film director, cinematographer, editor, and producer. His work includes award- winning films that have screened worldwide and commercials for national television campaigns. He has created content for Bacardi, St-Germain, Aberfeldy, Anheuser-Busch, Dewar’s, Gillette, LinkedIn, Grey Goose, Michelob Ultra, BMW, Bank of America, People, BBC America, Princeton University, Johns Hopkins University, Ailey II, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Trisha Brown Dance Company, among others. His Rhiannon Giddens music video featuring the Pennsylvania Innocence Project recently aired on The Daily Show. Before entering the world of film, Madoff was a dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

About The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is dedicated to enhancing access to its rich archives of dance, theater, music, and recorded sound—to amplify all voices and support the creative process. As one of The New York Public Library’s renowned research centers—and one of the world’s largest collections solely focused on the performing arts—the Library’s materials are available free of charge, along with a wide range of special programs, including exhibitions, seminars, film screenings and performances. The collection at the Library for the Performing Arts includes upwards of eight million items, notable for their extraordinary range and diversity—from 11th-century music to 20th-century manuscripts to contemporary hip-hop dance.

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