Merce at Black Mountain, revisited by L.A. Dance Project @ the Hammer

Dance · Visual arts

The Hammer Museum took on a Merce-ish mood, February 20, when L..A. Dance Project revitalized a classic Cunningham event to mark the opening of a new exhibition, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933 – ­1957.

[In the photos, “Project” dancers Anthony Bryant and Lilja Rúriksdóttir.]

Cunningham, along with artistic collaborator and life partner John Cage, made his first foray to the experimental college in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains in 1948. During subsequent summers through 1957, other dancers, notably Carolyn Brown and Remi Charlip, traipsed along. In them ‘thar hills, the influential, sophisticated and vastly urban dance company benefited from an injection of nature.

The dancers also encountered big ideas — set forth by the school’s four main instructors Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Charles Oson, and Cage.

The Hammer exhibit, beyond its prolific display of painting, sculpture, weaving and pottery, offers a rich performance component, geared as it is with two soundscapes, a grand piano, and a dance floor for live in-gallery happenings, notably in April.

Pictured below, an early visitor to the galleries, Albert Reid, a Merce Cunningham Dance Company member from 1964 – 1968 and a long time instructor of modern dance at the Cunningham studio and Bard College.

Performance photos courtesy Todd Cheney

Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933 – 1957 | The Hammer Museum | thru May 15

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