Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dance Timeline of the Second Half of the Twentieth Century

Some of the dances and events that I feel are important from 1950-2000.

1950- Martha Graham’s The Gospel of Eve and Judith.

1950- composer John Cage was looking for ways to impose as little as possible on musical elements as a way of rebelling against prescribed scenarios of one thing having to lead to another.

1951- Martha Graham’s solo The Triumph of St. Joan where she presents several aspects of woman, the Maid, Warrior, and Martyr. Jungian thought provided Graham with an approach to personae, she was stimulated by the idea of the collective unconscious and the power of the archetypal images that dwelt there.

1953- a new work was being planned for the New York City Ballet with a proposed collaboration between Igor Stravinsky and George Balanchine.

1953- Merce Cunningham forms his Cunningham company.

1954- George Balanchine uses Charles Ives’s The Unaswered Question for a section of Ivesiana, a restless, yearning call of a melody never resolved where amazingly the female dancer never touches the ground.

1955- Anna Sokolow’s work Rooms about urban isolation in tenements.

1957- Agon premiered, the final product of the collaboration of Igor Stravinsky and George Balanchine. It was perceived as a dazzling contemporary work, dense and lean, no fancy costumes only black and white practice clothes.

1958- Merce Cunningham and his company premiere Summerspace at the American Dance Festival. It was the first time Merce and his dancers had been invited to teach and perform at this bastion of modern dance.

1960- Liebeslider Walzer by George Balanchine and the music of Brahms, this ballet is poignantly romantic.

1960- Martha Graham’s Alcestis where a tipped, massive inverted L was a bed for the heroine’s unquiet slumbers.

1961- Anna Sokolow’s work Dreams about the horrors of the Holocaust.

1962 Judson Church becomes Judson Dance Theatre, it was a very experimental container for post-modern work.

1963- Suzanne Farrell’s status as a new muse is announced in Don Quixote, where Balanchine himself played the impotent and idealist Don to Farrell’s Dulcinea.

1965- Twyla Tharp left the Paul Taylor Company and started doing her own work.

1967- Cunningham Company does Rainforest, with glinting, gently bobbling stacks of helium-filled pillows that where designed by Andy Warhol.

1968- Merce Cunningham does Walkaround Time, which eventually erases the very notion of follow-up from the audience’s slate of possibilities.

1969- The Grand Union Collective is begun with Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, David Gordon and Trisha Brown.

1969- Cunningham Company does Canfield a dance where the order of sections or how many of them are performed may change from one performance to another.

1973- Martha Graham ends her performing career though she still animated and controlled her dancers, some say making them into appurtenances.

1974- a revival of “The Kingdom of the Shades” act from La Bayadere, staged by Natalia Makarova for American Ballet Theatre.

1975- Jiri Kylian joined the Netherlands Dance Theatre as resident choreographer and co-artistic director.

1975- Cunningham Company does Torse, a fast, bright, rather dry virtuosic piece, stressing five basic positions of the torso – straight, twisted, tilted, arched, and bent.

1976- the X6 Collective was formed in England and was similar to what the Judson Dance Theatre was doing ten years prior.

1976- revival of George Balanchine’s 1957 Square Dance where he inserted a new solo for the dancer Bart Cook because of Cook’s ability to blend lyrical plastic with a forthright farm boy persona.

1979- Glacial Decoy was the start of Trisha Brown’s lifelong exploration of the relationship between dance and visual arts. This quiet piece sees five dancers perform before Rauschenberg’s astonishingly beautiful slide projections.

1980- premier of Bell High for the Rambert Company by Richard Alston.

1981- Lar Lubovitch’s inward looking piece called Cavalcade to Reich’s Octet.

1986- Ulysses Dove’s Vespers, this piece has a postmodernist movement style featuring strong gestural phrases, a side-facing focus and a lot of waiting, along with a driving, percussive musical score by Mikel Rouse.

1991- Marie Chouinard first group work, Les Trous du ciel, was acclaimed in Canada, the United States and Europe. Critics and public alike felt the same intensity as in her solos, heightened by the numerous dancers.

1991- Ms. Tharp regrouped her company Twyla Tharp Dance and created a program with Mikhail Baryshnikov called Cutting Up, which went on to become one of contemporary dance's most successful tours, appearing in twenty eight cities over a two month period.

1999- Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake won the Drama Desk Award and two Tony Awards, Best Director for a Musical and Best Choreography. It was reviewed as pure theatre and most likely the most impressive and significant show to open on Broadway in a long time.

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