Imbued with fluid angularity, Merce Cunningham’s Summerspace presents contemporary whimsy underscored by a suspenseful, chirping score.
Summerspace was first performed by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company on August 17, 1958 at the American Dance Festival at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, and entered New York City Ballet’s repertory on April 14, 1966. This piece is indicative of Cunningham’s unique collaborative method, in which Morton Feldman composed the score, Robert Rauschenberg designed the décor, and Cunningham choreographed independently from each other. Together, the movement, music, and décor give the effect of a balmy, summer day. Dressed in painted leotards, the dancers move about the stage in sudden bursts of speed and suspensions, zigzagging every which way, like flying creatures. The delicate music at times sounds like bubbles of water rising to the surface, at others, with a muffled rumble in the bass, like distant thunder.