50 ans de danse
Choreography: Boris Charmatz

The performance exists in various versions: 50 ans de danse, performed by former dancers of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Flip book performed by professional dancers and Roman Photo with non-dancers, students and amateurs.

"In Merce Cunningham, un demi-siècle de danse [1], all Cunningham is included: pictures from every piece, and Merce is portrayed from the age of five... when I read this book, it came to my mind that the collection of the pictures was not only about nearly all the projects that he did until now, but formed a choreography in itself close to Cunningham’s processes to create dance: dance happens in between the postures, between two positions, and I guess we could invent a piece from this score of pictures, performed from beginning to end. On the one hand it would be a purely "fake Cunningham" piece, but on the other hand, I think if we succeed that it could become a real one, a real Cunningham piece, a Meta-Cunningham event with a glimpse of his entire life and work... I consider this experience as an integral part of our research, of our specific interest for the issue of archive, history and scores, which could meet here its tumultuous dimension: the entire history of a life’s work become book, transformed in its turn into a performance elaborated by a handful of dancers."

Boris Charmatz

Choreographer Boris Charmatz’s new project originates with a book: Merce Cunningham, Fifty Years — a photographic collection recounting the course of this monument of history of dance. Going over in fast reading some hundred and fifty of his pieces, the show re-visits the movements of the forerunner, with John Cage, of chance operations and combinationals within the choreographic field.
For Boris Charmatz – initiator of the school project Bocal and director of the Dancing Museum – the patrimony is in the first place a living material, propitious to diversions and savage reappropriations. He has taken hold of those photographs as a "readymade" choreography, arranging them like a giant flip book which questions the mechanisms of gesture reproduction.
Dance in kit, animated photocopy, unrestrained performance, 50 years of dance is an unclassifiable and all-purpose object: initiated with art students, taken over by dancers then by amateurs, it now meets… former interpreters of Cunningham. "I love the idea that in the midst of those thousand gestures, some of them are their own — and that they are going to re-interpret themselves", explains Boris Charmatz. For this reuniting, the dancers give back life to the frozen poses, fill up the holes – and give us a variation on the backwards motif of the conventional homage. A true-false Cunningham, playful and boisterous.

Gilles Amalvi in the program of the Festival d’Automne, season 2009/2010

Running time: 50 min

Interprétation :

Thomas Caley, Ashley Chen, Foofwa d’Imobilité, Banu Ogan, Valda Setterfield, Gus Solomons, Cheryl Therrien

Lights: Yves Godin
Sound: Olivier Renouf

Production direction: Sandra Neuveut, Martina Hochmuth, Amélie-Anne Chapelain
Production: Musée de la danse-Dancing Museum
Musée de la danse / Centre chorégraphique national de Rennes et de Bretagne directed by Boris Charmatz, is supported by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication – the Direction régionale des Affaires Culturelles, the city of Rennes, the regional Council of Brittany and the General Council of llle-et-Vilaine. The Institut français regularly contributes to the international touring of the Musée de la danse-Dancing Museum.
Coproduction: Théâtre de la Ville-Paris ; Tanzquartier Wien ; Festival d’Automne à Paris
with the support of ADC Genève, La Ménagerie de Verre
Thanks to: LiFE (St Nazaire), HZT (Berlin), Centre de Développement Chorégraphique (Toulouse).

50 ans de danse premiered on December 7th, 2009 at Théâtre de la Ville-Paris

Cover picture: © Sandro E. Zanzinger / 50 ans de danse, Tanzquartier Wien

  • 50 ans de danse
    © Musée de la danse

  • [1David Vaughan, Ed. Plume (French version), 1997 (out of print). "Merce Cunningham, Fifty Years" Ed. Aperture (original edition).