Merce Cunningham Trust

Ocean 2010

LENGTH 100 minutes
DIRECTOR Charles Atlas
DESIGNERS Marsha Skinner
PRODUCER Cunningham Dance Foundation, Walker Arts Center
DISTRIBUTOR Electronic Arts Intermix
MUSIC Soundings: Ocean Diary, David Tudor and Ocean 1-133, Andrew Culver
MUSICIANS David Behrman, John King, Takehisa Kosugi and the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra
DANCERS Julie Cunningham, Daniel Madoff, Silas Riener, Melissa Toogood, Holley Farmer, Jennifer Goggans, Rashaun Mitchell, Koji Mizuta, Marcie Munnerlyn, Brandon Collwes, Daniel Squire, Emma Desjardins, Robert Swinston
John Cage’s original concept of "Ocean", in 1991, was for a dance to be performed in a circular space, with the audience surrounding the dancers, and the musicians (112 of them) surrounding the audience. It was not possible to realize this project at the time, but a commission for performances in Brussels and Amsterdam in 1994 made it a reality. Andrew Culver composed music according to Cage’s concept and David Tudor made an electronic component (Soundings: "Ocean Diary"). Cunningham’s choreography was in nineteen sections, using a chance process based on the number of hexagrams in the I Ching—64, but owing to the length of the dance this was doubled, 128. This number of phrases allowed for solos, duets, trios, quartets, and group sections. To accustom the dancers to dancing in the round, Cunningham told them “you have to put yourself on a merry-go-round that keeps turning all the time.” Marsha Skinner designed unitards in varied colors; at a certain point the women added dresses. The last performance of "Ocean" was in the Rainbow Quarry in Minnesota, September 2008, at which time the piece was filmed by Charles Atlas. Filmed at Rainbow Quarry, Waite Park MN, September 2008. Final editing completed in 2010.