Stephanie Berger

Merce Cunningham: Beyond the Perfect Stage

Shot in vivid color, Beyond the Perfect Stage celebrates the final landmark performances of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in the New York area: a series of performances of “Events” (2007-2009) at Dia:Beacon and the conclusion of the Company’s performing life at the Park Avenue Armory. The 96-page book itself is enclosed in a playfully designed box whose panel-by-panel opening becomes the curtain raiser for the performance within.

With each page visually connected to its past and future photograph, the images move like a dancer though space. By honoring Cunningham’s legacy through her unerring determination of a telling moment, consider Berger the choreographer; and with her astute and witty use of color and design that rhythmically guides the eye from page to page, consider Cuomo the lighting and set designer. Together they join the images giving the vitality and genius of Cunningham a new, bright and unexpected life.

While Merce Cunningham and his dancers have, over the years, been subjects of multiple books and photo essays, “Merce Cunningham: Beyond the Perfect Stage” is focused on the final years of the Company. Cunningham had decreed that his troupe be dissolved two years after his death. The photographs taken at Dia:Beacon were shot while the choreographer was still alive, and the ones at the Park Avenue Armory, were taken at the conclusion of the troupe’s landmark international tour, two years after Cunningham’s death on July 25, 2009.

November 18, 2016