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Film Series: Runs & Limited Engagements

If the Dancer Dances

2018, Maia Wechsler, USA, 87 min.

Show Times

  • Fri, Aug 16th 2:15pm
  • Fri, Aug 16th 6:00pm
  • Sat, Aug 17th 5:15pm
  • Sun, Aug 18th 3:15pm
  • Mon, Aug 19th 6:00pm
  • Tue, Aug 20th 8:15pm
  • Wed, Aug 21st 8:00pm
  • Thu, Aug 22nd 6:00pm
Chicago premiere!

"A gratifyingly hands-on backstage chronicle...even viewers without the faintest grasp of dance technique will gain a strong sense of what made Cunningham's work so groundbreaking."—Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

"Lovingly crafted...It's a study in rigor, devotion and passion."—Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

Following the death of his idol Merce Cunningham in 2009, noted New York choreographer Stephen Petronio decided to restage Cunningham's 1968 masterwork "RainForest," an atmospheric piece featuring nature-evoking music composed by David Tudor, silver Mylar balloons designed by Andy Warhol, and razor-slashed flesh-colored leotards designed by Jasper Johns. The challenges were considerable, involving not just the rigorous demands of Cunningham's choreography but also the ephemeral nature of dance itself, of which written notations and two-dimensional films can offer only approximations. Three Cunningham veterans were brought in to drill Petronio's dancers, who struggled with the late master's intimidating reputation, the physically taxing movements, and the dangers of falling into an accurate but lifeless imitation. Wechler's documentary offers not just a fascinating immersion in the creative process but also an exploration of general issues concerning artistic legacies and influences. DCP digital. (MR)

8/20 - Dancers Panel

Paige Cunningham: Former Merce Cunningham Dance Co. member, Associate Professor at Columbia College Chicago
John Hinrichs: Former Merce Cunningham Dance Co. member, Software Engineer
Zachary Whittenburg (moderator): Contributor, Dance Magazine

8/21 - Interdisciplinary-Focused Panel:

Robert Chase Heishman: Former Artist in Residence at Merce Cunningham Dance Co., Visual Artist
Christine Shallenberg: Former Lighting Director for Merce Cunningham Dance Co., Co-engineer for the JCSpaceRadio Project
Bonnie Brooks (moderator): Director of Third Way Projects, Associate Professor Emeritus of Dance at Columbia College Chicago

Play Trailer