The documentary If the Dancer Dances invites viewers into the intimate world of the dance studio. The film, an Official Selection of Dance On Camera 2018, and Raindance 2018, opens theatrically in New York (The Quad) on Friday, April 26th and in Los Angeles on Friday, May 3rd (Laemmle Music Hall) with a national release to follow.
Stephen Petronio, one of today’s leading dance-makers, is determined to help his dancers breathe new life into RainForest (1968), an iconic work by the legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham. With help from three members of the former Cunningham company, the film tracks Petronio’s dancers as they strive to re-stage this great work, revealing what it takes to keep a dance – and a legacy – alive. Timed to coincide with Cunningham’s centennial, If the Dancer Dances is the first documentary on the subject of Cunningham’s work since his passing in 2009.
“The dance studio is a private and mysterious place. If the Dancer Dances grants us rare access, bringing us into the studio to watch the staging of a Merce Cunningham masterwork on the Stephen Petronio Company. It’s the tracking of this intimate process, a dance being passed one body to another, that makes this film a great gift. ” Mikhail Baryshnikov on If the Dancer Dances.
Merce Cunningham was an American dancer and choreographer who stood at the forefront of American modern dance for more than 60 years. As a choreographer, teacher, and leader of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Cunningham had a profound influence on modern dance and earned some of the highest honors bestowed in the arts, including the National Medal of Arts and the MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellowship. Cunningham is also notable for his frequent collaborations with artists of other disciplines, including the musicians Radiohead and John Cage (also his life partner), as well as visual artists Andy Warhol, who did the décor for RainForest, the dance featured in If the Dancer Dances, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.
Cunningham’s centennial is being celebrated worldwide in 2019 with performances, installations, films and other special events to honor his legacy.