overviewsplit sides is a work for the full company of fourteen dancers. each design element was made in two parts, by one or two artists, or, in the case of the music, by two bands. the order in which each element is presented is determined by chance procedure at the time of the performance. mathematically, there are thirty-two different possible versions of split sides. (the coordination of concept and collaborators was by trevor carlson, at the time general manager of the company.) the piece was first given during the company’s 50th anniversary season at bam (brooklyn academy of music), 14 october 2003.
the choreography, also in two parts, each twenty minutes in length, was made, as with all of cunningham’s dances since 1991, with the use of the computer program danceforms. there are a number of ensemble (often unison) passages, and also solos, duets that feature much inventive partnering, and trios.
split sides was a departure for mcdc in that, for the first time, the music was by two bands: radiohead, the british alternative rock group, and sigur rós, the experimental group from iceland. radiohead played live for the first performance only, sigur rós for many subsequent performances. at later performances, elements of radiohead’s contribution were played back in a recording, with some manipulation by mcdc musicians. neither band had seen the dance company before; the musicians of sigur rós constructed a kind of xylophone made of pointe shoes, connected to contact microphones.
split sides was commissioned by the bite: 04 barbican, london and the benedicta arts center of the college of saint benedict, st. joseph, mn, and was co-commissioned by the center dance association of the music center of los angeles county, the carlsen center at johnson county community college, overland park, ks, and the brooklyn academy of music, brooklyn, ny. split sides was made possible, in part, by support from the howard gilman foundation, the rudolf nureyev dance foundation, phyllis wattis, and members of the new works commissioner’s circle, and through public support from the national endowment for the arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art. commissioning of the music for split sides was made possible by a gift from jill f. bonovitz. underwriting of décor by catherine yass was provided by harriette and noel levine.
split sides - merce cunningaham dance company
music radiohead & sigur ros
set design robert heishman & cathrine yass
costumes james hall
lighting plot a / plot b james f. ingalls
choreography merce cunningham
cedric andrieux, jonah bokaer, lisa boudreau, ashley chen, paige cunningham, holly frances farmer, jennifer goggans, mandy kirschner, koji mizuta, daniel roberts, daniel squire, jeannie steele, derry swan, robert swinston, cheryl therrien
general managament trevor carlsson
executice director jeffrey h. james
music supervisor andy russ
special thanks to michelle l. king for everything
additional linkssigur-ros.co.uk: ba ba ti ki di do
sigur-ros.co.uk: reviews and photographs of premiere, brooklyn academy of music, new york, (14th october 2003)
merce.org: mini-site for "split sides"
sigur-ros.co.uk: single / dvd ordering information