Dedicated to presenting works from choreographers past and present, New York Theatre Ballet (NYTB) returns with a new program of Legends and Visionaries, a series that focuses on infrequently performed masterpieces by legendary choreographers and new works from contemporary visionaries.
The program will feature Scramble, a piece by Merce Cunningham created in 1957 with sets by Frank Stella, the intimate, miniature Short Memory by Pam Tanowitz, and a world premiere by Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer, Toulouse's Dream.
This was a dance for the then company of eight dancers, later augmented to eleven. It consisted of eighteen sections whose order could be changed, or omitted, hence the difference in length. Cunningham performed a clownlike solo (this aspect tended to be left out when other dancers performed it) and a duet with Carolyn Brown, who also had a solo with slow, swimming movements. The music by Toshi Ichiyanagi (Activities for Orchestra) is scored for western instruments; the players perform multiple activities in cued sequences that are scrambled by the musicians in performance. Scramble was the first piece whose designer was selected by Jasper Johns after his appointment as artistic advisor. Frank Stella made a set consisting of strips of canvas in the colors of the spectrum, mounted on vertical frames that could be moved about the stage by the dancers. He specified the colors of the costumes: the men wore jumpsuits, the women leotards and tights.
For Pam Tanowitz' Short Memories, Michael Scales was joined by violinist Pauline Kim Harris to perform the music of Lou Harrison and Henry Cowell on stage. Sylvia Taalsohn Nolan costumed the dancers in an all black tight bodysuit with each dancer wearing different colored shoes. Ms. Tanowitz explored point work with an unusual combination of classical steps as well as body placement.
The work is abstract in nature and has seeming nod to Merce Cunningham. Ms. Tanowitz use of space was as vital to this work as was the lighting and music, for it is interwoven in such a way that she uses it to enhance her statement. She would have the dancers in varying places doing different things simultaneously.