Biped Cunningham Essay

Pages: 3 (527 words) Published: December 4, 2015


Biped, choreographed in 1999, is the culmination of Cunningham’s experimentation with technology and dance. For Biped Cunningham collaborated with Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar to compile 25 minutes of motion-captured animation that could be broken down into smaller pieces and projected onto a scrim that covers the front of the stage (Copeland 2004: 193). The animation can appear as the concentric-circle shaped figures from LifeForms, or it can be stripped down to appear as floating dots or lines. Behind the scrim the stage floor is divided into randomly lit squares, and the surrounding space is completely black so that the dancers appear to be inside of a television set or computer screen. The black curtain across the back of the stage has...

The movement still has hints of ballet in its origin, but the way in which the torso, arms, and legs move is more readily classified as modern dance. This evolution of Cunningham’s choreography came with his use of LifeForms to create increasingly difficult movement that could be shown clearly to the dancer learning it (Copeland 2004: 194). In Biped the dancers contort and twist their back and neck against clearly placed legs. The arms have become more integrated, providing angled frames for the shapes of their body and assisting in the momentum that leads their heads and torsos off-kilter. There are unison phrases where the dancers are performing the same movement, but with different timing and in the way their body has uniquely interpreted it. Duets and trios in the traditional sense are non-existent in this work. When there are two or three dancers on the stage they are there to share the space, there is no reference or acknowledgement of the other bodies. If there were contact it is in a similar fashion to Fractions I, a male helps a female cross the space with her right leg extended at a 45-degree angle, something she would not be able to achieve by herself. Once he has fulfilled this task, he leaves her. Though there is a lack of traditional partnering, the closet is still upheld by the technological focus of the...
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