Merce Cunningham: Film Analysis

Topics: Choreography, Dance, Performance Pages: 4 (842 words) Published: December 4, 2015


In collaboration with Merce Cunningham, Atlas Films produced Fractions I in 1977. In Fractions I we are able to recognize how Cunningham’s movement has evolved from Septet, as well as how technology has taken on a role in his choreography. The movement in Fractions I still features balletic lines from the females and athletic jumps from the males, similar to Septet. Watching the piece you feel as if you are watching a technique class due to the way that phrases are repeated and executed in a very specific manor, as well as in the way the movement develops from beginning to end. Differing from Septet though, the body has become much more integrated in the movement often moving in contorted ways. This is demonstrated in the section with Lisa...

Within the camera frame there are television sets, four in total but we do not see all four at all times. Cunningham’s purpose for the television sets was to play with the “…idea of the fragmenting of images among a number of screens – action taking place simultaneously in different areas of the studio was seen on the main screen and also on monitors set up within the range of the main camera” (Kostelanetz, Vaughan 1992: 152). These television sets are vital to understanding both the movement and the literal meaning of the piece. The television sets act as magnifying glass for the movement. They highlight a specific area on a dancer’s body, so that what we see on the television sets are fractions of the whole dancer that is moving in the space. The television sets also divide the studio up into fractions, so if one phrase is being performed behind the television sets, we may be seeing up to four other phrases happening in other parts of the studio. The television sets allowed Cunningham to play with space and time, and to force his audience to choose what to watch. With so much movement happening at one time the film can be viewed over and over, with the audience solely focusing on the movement each...
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