Rare New York dance piece at SFU Vancouver
Megan Walker Straight returns to her New York City roots with a restaging of Merce Cunningham’s Native Green, part of Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts’ Main Stage spring performance series Perspective/Retrospective. The event runs April 2-5 at SFU's Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.
Walker Straight, now a sessional instructor at SFU, was one of a six-member dance ensemble that first performed Native Green in New York in 1985. As a member of the original group, she was able to apply for and receive a 2013 fellowship from the Cunningham Trust to restage and license the piece.
The application process included a fellowship in New York last year, working with two students from SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts.
This is the first time Native Green has been licensed by either an educational or professional group. Walker Straight was also able to secure the original, hand-printed costumes from Native Green’s first performance.
“They each have the nametag sewn in from the company member who last wore them. This has given the students a poignant sense of history as they re-wear the same costumes, execute the same steps, and very likely share the same technical and expressive challenges and joys of these former dancers,” explains Walker Straight.
The series features the premiere of two other works: Graze by guest choreographer Charlotte Boye-Christensen and 144 by SCA faculty Henry Daniel.
The pieces, performed by SCA’s dance students, also involve many other disciplines at the school. While in Vancouver for an upcoming Ballet BC piece featuring his work, Native Green’s composer John King tutored SFU student Alex Mah on a violin piece to be performed live at the showings.
Like all of Cunningham’s pieces, the Native Green dancers do not hear the music until the performances in April.
“Dancers dance and musicians make music and we meet in the same space and time on opening night; two separate and equal partners…Two shows for the price of one,” adds Walker Straight.
Perspective/Retrospective runs April 2-5 at 8 p.m. in the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. Tickets are available online or at the door for $15 ($5 for students and seniors).
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