Ask the MCA: Box Office Recommendations

Poster with John Cage and Merce Cunningham Dance Company traveling trunk at Fondation Maeght, Sant Paul de Vence, France, Jul 1970. Photo: James Klosty, courtesy of the photographer.

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Our MCA Stage season began a few weeks ago so we asked a few MCA Box Office staff which MCA Stage performance(s) they are most looking forward to attending.

Laura’s Picks

It is so hard to choose! Each performance has such a unique and exciting take, whether it’s feeling the energy of the Dorrance dancers, grooving to Burnt Sugar, or becoming enamored with a tiny coal-mining puppet in Chiflón. But if I had to pick one, it’s got to be Tesseract. Between the set design, use of film, and live performance, I can’t wait to see how they shake up the viewers experience of bodies in motion.

Matti’s Picks

About ten years ago I was working in the MCA's Box Office when Merce Cunningham came to visit the museum. Frail, with silvery curls and smart puppy-dog eyes, Merce radiated charisma. I was star-struck and giddy and can you blame me? Merce was one of the premier choreographers of the 20th century and, as it turns out, a sweet guy. I immediately abandoned my post (don’t tell my boss) and took Merce up to see a John Cage artwork in one of our galleries. (John Cage was Merce’s partner in life and art.) Then I strongly urged him to take a ticket to Reggie Harris's sold out Puremovement being performed in our theater that afternoon. Merce gamely agreed to watch the performance and afterwards came out to thank me saying, “Well that was quite wonderful!” I swooned.

Seeing the choreography of Merce Cunningham changed my entire concept of what dance could be: dance could be a chance operation just as much as it could be a rehearsed and scripted movement. Instead of choreographing to music, Merce’s dances work around and against music in a way I find equal parts liberating and irritating. I’m hardwired to expect humans to dance in synchronicity with sound, and Merce’s art shakes up my expectations. After experiencing his work I began seeing everyday activities as dance and the sounds of the city as a kind of a reverse soundtrack.

This coming spring you’ll have the extraordinary opportunity to experience the artistry of Merce Cunningham in the MCA's galleries and on the stage. With the upcoming lineup I find I can’t recommend just one. Instead, I encourage you to see every Merce-influenced program.

Whether you’re a dance junkie, an art lover, or a music nerd, Merce will surely make you swoon, too.

Charles Atlas / Rashaun Mitchell / Silas Riener Tesseract

A dancer in orange leotard arches her back and rests on her elbows behind an open cube sculpture and against a bright green background. Her left hip is accentuated by a sharp cone in the same orange of her leotard.

The legacy of Merce’s innovation lives on in Tesseract, a dance production which brings dance into a queer space-time continuum, including 3D film.

Pro-tip: This show is visually lush and the most accessible Merce program so bring a newly hatched dance fan as a date.

  1. Long In an empty, horizon-less green space, a young woman reclines on her elbows. Her right knee is raised, and her back arched. Her hips are accentuated by sharp cones that project from her orange leotard. Her gaze is downcast, towards the open, orange cubical structure beside her.

Matti on the exhibition

Not quite convinced or in need of more Merce? I’ve got homework for you: come February, make sure to see the exhibition, Merce Cunningham: Common Time. Common Time is an homage to Merce’s legacy and is sure to wow you with all the top notch artists he collaborated with (Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns—even Radiohead).

My Art, My City