Twist, Bend, Reach, Step: A Merce Cunningham Solo that anyone can try


None of this is difficult to do. In my favorite passage, you swing your body to the right with your arms stretched from side to side, then you turn around in a shallow squatting facing the other direction, the torso slightly twisted, the arms bent at an angle of 90 degrees and upward, as if you were holding a book. (My favorite: a balance on one leg which descends, in a single stroke, on the opposite knee. Ouch.)

Cunningham choreographed the series for himself in 1979. (He was 60 years old.) He assembled the positions using random operations, in this case, the I Ching hexagrams, which determined which step, or “look Would go first and then what would go next.

When Ms. Lent was a dancer in the company, she said, she had only a vague idea of ​​how her composition process worked. He didn’t talk about it. The chance operations – throwing dice, throwing coins, entering data into a computer program – happened before he started working with the dancers. Then he came and taught choreography.

Now she has access to her notes. “He used chance as a composing tool, not an oracle,” said Lent via Zoom from her home in Ovid, New York. The open space where she works is filled with cool natural light.


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