Emerging Dancer Julie Cunningham Makes Choreographic Debut at the Barbican Centre

Julie Cunningham & Company, Double a Bill, Harry Alexander, Julie Cunningham, Alex Williams and Hannah Burfield | Photo: Stephen Wright
Julie Cunningham & Company, Double a Bill, Harry Alexander, Julie Cunningham, Alex Williams and Hannah Burfield | Photo: Stephen Wright
Photo of Freire Barnes
Art & Design Editor27 February 2017

Award-winning dancer Merce Cunningham tackles gender and identity in her first choreographed double bill at the Barbican’s The Pit.

After cutting her teeth as a dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the Michael Clark Company, where she was awarded outstanding modern performance at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards in 2014, the Liverpool-born Cunningham combines dance and spoken word for her first foray into choreography.

Julie Cunningham & Company, Double a Bill, Julie Cunningham, Alex Williams, Hannah Burfield and Harry Alexander | Photo: Stephen Wright

Currently the inaugural choreography fellow at Rambert, where she also trained as a dancer, Cunningham has taken inspiration from Ancient Greek mythology and contemporary hip-hop for her first full-length double bill.

Julie Cunningham & Company, Double a Bill, Harry Alexander, Julie Cunningham, Alex Williams and Hannah Burfield | Photo: Stephen Wright

For the bill’s first half, To Be Me, Cunningham draws on the mythical story of Tiresias, who was turned from a man into a woman for seven years by the goddess Hera. On being returned to his male form, Tiresias loses his sight, but is given the power of insight and becomes a blind prophet.

Julie Cunningham & Company, Double a Bill, Hannah Burfield, Julie Cunningham, Alex Williams and Harry Alexander | Photo: Stephen Wright

Choreographing herself and three dancers, Cunningham uses English poet Kate Tempest’s reworking of the myth as the narrative backdrop to her debut piece. Continuing the theme of incorporating the spoken word, Cunningham will use music by Anohni (Antony and the Johnsons) in the bill’s innovative second half.

Julie Cunningham & Company: Double Bill is at the Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS from March 8–11 2017 (1 hour 20 mins/including an interval).

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