My first and last encounter with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company started off pretty well with a lovely dinner at Credo. Penelope and I have eaten here twice now, and I have to say the manager of this restaurant is one of the best I've encountered. He didn't remember us from our previous visit but we remembered him and he wasted little time making us feel welcome and appreciated- again. The waitstaff is excellent, the food was delicious and the drinks are strong. If you're looking for a place in the Financial District to have a great meal and if you appreciate professionalism, this is your place.
We missed the BART train to Berkeley by a single minute, which made us late to the performance by ten, and a snafu at the box office didn't help, but I didn't really care- there was nothing I could do about it at this point, though I loathe being late to a performance. We got inside by what should have been midway through Pond Way and sat in the back, though based on the music I suspect the show started a little late. My eye was immediately captivated by the large Lichtenstein painting Landscape with Boat which formed the backdrop for the work. As I focused on the dancers there was one who was constantly off from the rest of the troupe. It turned out to be MCDC's Director of Choreography Robert Swinston.The music, Brian Eno's New Ikebukuro, was fantastic. Mean and menacing, it set a tone, as if to say "screw you, dance world, these are my friends and I'll do as I please." It was an ethos I can appreciate and despite Swinston's flailing about the piece was very rewarding and I especially like the Grecian urn poses.
After the first intermission came 1958's Antic Meet, which Penelope loved, describing it as sheer joy to watch. Dylan Crossman, Emma Desjardins, Jennifer Goggans, Daniel Madoff, Krista Nelson and Melissa Toogood went through a series expressive and difficult moves to make the comedic piece work and it proved successful on every level. The costumes by Robert Rauschenberg were absurd and amusing. The music, John Cage's Concert for Piano and Orchestra is something I need to hear again.
The finale was 1975's Soundance, and as the final piece in a farewell tour, there was a bittersweet quality about it. Swinston was back onstage, distracting my attention from the other dancers, who emerged from a gold curtain, and re-engage with it during the work.The piece had an air of sadness about it, clashing with the intriguing costumes by Mark Lancaster. When it was all over, it made me wish I'd seen more.
The event was presented by Cal Performances.