An Evening with Julie Cunningham and Company

Julie Cunningham

Autumnal skies threatening rain and clouds in palest ochre accompany me on my journey to Dance East’s new season of events.

In the first work entitled m/y six dancers hold the stage. Each dressed in an ‘all in one’ suit of translucent material in blues and orange, subtle, beautiful and ungendered. With solo’s, duet’s and whole group work the focus on ‘looking’ is intense. It is this ‘gaze’, this engagement with seeing that is so captivating and disturbing. It is at once self-reflective and outward-looking and we are implicit and involved in both. It feels special and unique and exciting.

Julie Cunningham worked for many years with Merce Cunningham and echoes of his precision, attention to minute detail and fine nuanced movements are all evidenced in the choreography of this piece. m/y is a conversation in a language at times so intricate that it leaves us slightly breathless. And indeed, it is only much later, when the work has had time to ‘sit’ that the powerfully visceral nature of the dancers really sinks in. Cunningham creates a complex world through symbols and codes. It is not always a world we understand but it is a place of raw emotion, where love and rejection, joy and pain have equal weight. It is a place of feeling.

my/kovsky follows the interval and is a playful and joyful response to Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1. It is a delightful work to watch. And although it is a contrast in tone and colour to m/y this piece still explores the ‘gaze’ and questions and challenges the idea of gendered roles. As I leave the auditorium, the evening now dark and the rain gently falling on my face I think about my own female gaze and wonder…

Reviewed on September 27th 2019 at Dance East Ipswich