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Must End Tuesday, January 14  Closed Caption Available icon 


12:30 & 5:35 ONLY

Alla Kovgan’s CUNNINGHAM makes elegant use of 3D technology to bring to life the work of legendary choreographer and dancer, Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) in this, his centennial year. Not unlike Wim Wenders’s approach to Pina Bausch, the film embraces 3D to great effect, featuring stunning excerpts from iconic Cunningham dances, performed by the last generation of his dancers. On camera, some of his original acolytes (notably Carolyn Brown) accompany archival footage that features Merce, composer John Cage (his partner in life as well as in creation), and their collaborator Robert Rauschenberg who designed costumes, sets, and lighting for such dances as Interscape, Summerspace, and Crises. CUNNINGHAM is a thrilling tribute to a man The New York Times described in his final years as “the world’s greatest living choreographer” and the “American modern dance equivalent of Nijinsky.” – Alastair Macaulay

Note: In conjunction with the film’s opening, Judson Arts and Movement Research will present a free program of live performances, discussion, and reflection on Cunningham’s legacy on Saturday, December 14, at the historic Judson Memorial Church. View details.

Presented with support from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Fund.



“A craftsman whose precision, rigor, and imagination could take your breath away. This is the Cunningham that Kovgan offers up, in vivid three dimensions. The dancers… fill the space with energy and the sheer intelligence and wit of the movements. Our proximity is enhanced by the magic of 3-D. The elegance of the cinematography turns these passages into the stanzas of a visual poem. 3-D puts you there, in the room, with these bodies in motion. Watching this dance (‘Summerspace’) as if from within is jarringly beautiful and slightly mind-bending. Kovgan’s film succeeds in a way that most dance documentaries do not: as an art object in and of itself. Cunningham tapped into that feeling (ecstasy) - and in Kovgan’s film, it shines from every frame.”
– Marina Harss, The New Yorker

“Thrilling. An excellent introduction to a great body of work. A vivid equivalent. An immersive sense of what Cunningham called ‘a space in which anything can happen.’ (With) archival footage, much of it rare and irreplaceable. Cunningham himself (was) surely one of the greatest dancers of all time. Emotion roils beneath a deceptively placid surface. A story accrues. The elegant camera movements and dramatic settings chosen by Kovgan… are beautiful.”
– Brian Seibert, The New York Times

“To call Kovgan’s highly anticipated film CUNNINGHAM a documentary is to oversimplify. Grants audiences an unprecedented degree of intimacy.”
– Courtney Escoyne, Dance Magazine

“A definitive study of choreographer Merce Cunningham turns the air itself into something tactile, sliced by angular, precise movements. Your takeaway is a tangible appreciation for an innovator of both mind and body.”
– Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

Film Forum