In 2003, a friend convinced me to attend the ballet. I should preface this by mentioning that, while I am a great supporter of all forms of artistic expression, and while I have a deep appreciation of the human form, dance had never really spoken to me. I have friends who were dancers, who have explained some ideas and concepts to me, but until that night I had never been captivated by a dance performance.
The show was Merce Cunningham‘s Split Sides, a two-part performance featuring original music by Radiohead and my beloved Sigur Ros (the ballet was recently released on DVD; Sigur Ros’ musical accompaniment was released on CD as ba ba ti ki di do in 2004). I must admit my attentions were paid most closely to the music, but the ballet held me entranced. A seemingly chaotic swirl of color and limb, blurring and bending in perfect form. I will not not attempt to further describe what I honestly did not understand, but let me say I was touched by this performance, and though I never saw another Cunningham show, he was the first to show me the possibilities of what I now appreciate to be a great art.
Merce Cunningham died Sunday at his home in New York City, at the age of 90. He will be remembered as one of the true geniuses of our time.