Dance in Berkeley: a première and the end of an era

Merce Cunningham Dance Company's production of Antic Meet. Photo: Anna Finke.

As one prestigious theater company holds a star-studded première in Berkeley, another will be holding its last performance ever in our fair city.

The US première of Eonnagata, produced by Robert Lepage and his Quebec based Ex Machina theatre company, legendary French dancer Sylvie Guillem and British choreographer Russell Maliphant, will be at on stage at Zellerbach Hall tonight and tomorrow night, and there are still some tickets left at time of writing.

Eonnagata explores the life of Charles de Beaumont, an 18th-century French diplomat, soldier and spy, whose career exploits and fluid gender identity — he lived half of his life as a man and half as a woman — made him an audacious yet enigmatic figure.

Meanwhile, the renowned Merce Cunningham Dance Company celebrates its founder on March 3-5, also being presented by Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall, as part of the company’s Legacy Tour — and will be the last time the troupe will dance in Berkeley.

Offering a selection of works that spans the length and breadth of Cunningham’s life and collaborations, the first program is a mixed bill showcasing revivals of Antic Meet, set to music by John Cage with décor by Robert Rauschenberg; Pond Way, music by Brian Eno; and Sounddance set to music by David Tudor and décor by John Lancaster (Thursday & Friday, March 3 & 4).

The second program is the first Bay Area performance of the evening-length work Roaratorio, based on and inspired by James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake”; it is one of the most celebrated collaborations between Cunningham and Cage (Saturday, March 5).

Merce Cunningham Dance Company has had a long relationship with Cal Performances beginning with the company’s first appearance in Berkeley in 1962 at Wheeler Auditorium when the company, along with Cage, toured in a Volkswagen bus.  “So many high points of Merce’s repertory have happened here at Cal Performances,” said David Vaughan, Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s historian.

For information and tickets visit Cal Performances website.

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  • tizzielish

    Why is this the last time Merce Cunningham Dance Company will perform in Berkeley? Is the company disbanding? Can the writer of this post read the future? How do you know it’s the last time?

  • Sometimes the future is foreseeable. See the explanation on CalPerformance’s website:

    “The revolutionary American dance company makes its final visit to UC Berkeley, culminating a relationship that began in 1962 with those first remarkable performances in Wheeler Auditorium. Following the choreographer’s death in 2009, MCDC embarked on the two-year farewell Legacy Tour, in accordance with the Cunningham Dance Foundation’s Legacy Plan for the future of the company and the preservation of Cunningham’s work. MCDC will disband after a final performance in New York City on December 31, 2011.”