In the buginning is the woid, in the muddle is the sound-dance, and therinofter you’re in the unbewised again….
James Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake
“Sounddance” is Merce Cunningham’s iconic work, and now, this week, it will be performed for the last time in a theater where it has been at home before, in the nation’s capital. Here, once again, before our ears and in our ears, three arts—conceived separately and only converging in the theater–will combine, as if they were made for one another. The first is of course the dance; the second the decor (costumes and scenery) the third, the music. There is not, has not been, and won’t ever be another Cunningham dance with a greater unity of impression than this one, the elements joining in a felicitous and exponential explosion.
You don’t have to look far into this occasion to see that this last performance of this dance is ripe with metaphor. Next week, the company returns to New York, for performances at The Brooklyn Academy of Music. Then it’s on to Paris. On Christmas Eve, the company will fly home to give its final performances–three last days at the Park Avenue Armory. But in Washington, the very last month in the life of a company that began in 1953 starts with the piece that sums it all up. Everything is in this dance. It always was. And still, it expands to absorb current situation, current meaning, current thought.