Merce Cunningham Trust

BIPED 2005


DANCES BIPED
LENGTH 52 minutes
DIRECTOR Charles Atlas
DESIGNERS Shelley Eshkar
Paul Kaiser
Aaron Copp
Suzanne Gallo
PRODUCER MK2 & NADA
DISTRIBUTOR Electronic Arts Intermix
COLOR/BW Color
MUSIC Biped, Gavin Bryars
MUSICIANS Takehisa Kosugi, Audrey Riley, James Woodrow
DANCERS Lisa Boudreau, Thomas Caley, Holley Farmer, Maydelle Fason, Jean Freebury, David Kulick, Matthew Mohr, Banu Ogan, Glen Rumsey, Daniel Squire, Jeannie Steele, Derry Swan, Robert Swinston, Cheryl Therrien
Cunningham has written: "The dance gives me the feeling of switching channels on the TV...the action varies from slow formal sections to rapid broken-up sequences where it is difficult to see all the complexity." Many people have commented on the elegiac nature of the closing moments of the piece. The décor for "BIPED" is an exploration of the possibilities of the animation technology of motion capture. The digital artists Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar collaborated with Cunningham, who, working with two dancers, (Jared Phillips, Jeanne Steele and Robert Swinston) choreographed 70 phrases that were transposed into digital images. These animated images, as well as abstract patterns (vertical and horizontal lines, dots, clusters), are projected on to a scrim at the front of the stage, behind which the live dancers may be seen. Cunningham also used computer software, DanceForms, to develop the choreography for the dance, which is in a number of sections: solos, duets, trios, and ensemble dances. The music by Gavin Bryars, also called Biped, is partly recorded and partly played live on acoustic instruments. Suzanne Gallo’s costumes use a metallic fabric that reflects light. At one point in the dance the men, clothed in pajama-like outfits in a transparent fabric, bring on tops in the same fabric for the women. Aaron Copp devised the lighting, dividing the stage floor into squares lit in what looked like a random sequence, as well as the curtained booths at the back of the stage that permit the dancers to appear and disappear. Filmed at Mulhouse, France (1999).