Replicating the Master of Modern Dance
Replica comes to the Adrienne Arsht Center Merce Cunningham was hip before his time. The choreographer’s spectacular collaborations with off-the-mainstream-grid musicians and artists like John Cage, Bruce Nauman, and Sonic Youth, broke all boundaries and changed dance forever. In one of his last multi-disciplinary pieces before his death, Merce tapped Miami visual artist Daniel Arsham to craft his sets in 2007 – and now it’s Arsham’s turn to forge new frontiers. One of his first attempts lands at the Arsht Center on Nov. 12 and – in a nod to the truly eclectic collaborative nature of the piece – at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Nov. 13. Now based in New York, Arsham was on his way to the airport when we caught up with him, returning to Miami to direct Replica, the work co-created with former Merce dancer Jonah Bokaer and Judith Sanchez Ruiz. Arsham has again created the set – reflecting his remarkable eye for spatial design – but this time, the 28-year-old will also take the stage. “I just figured, I can do what I want [to see] as well as anyone else.” He will be joined by Bokaer and Taiwanese dancer CC Chang in performing the 55-minute piece. They will be interacting with a giant white cube in the middle of the stage, competing with video images simultaneously projected on those white walls. And in what has become an Arsham trademark, optical illusions will infuse the whole scene with a sense of unreality. It will appear as though “the cube is breaking down, you’ll see it start to physically break up during the performance. But then, it will begin to reassemble, in a manipulation of the wall,” explains Arsham. “I like the idea of mirroring, and of replication.” Hence the title, Replica. Arsham also says he wants to do away with typical stage boundaries in a literal sense – like off-stage versus on. So when the performance moves to the museum, off-stage will disappear all together – the dancers will only move around the cube, and maybe the audience too. “I think the seats will be all around, very different from the traditional viewing perspective.” If you can’t make it to one of these performances, the creative (and prolific) hand of Arsham won’t be hard to find elsewhere. He’ll have a huge installation in the foyer of the Arsht Center when the Merce Cunningham Dance Company returns for its Legacy Tour during Art Basel; and a solo show at Galerie Perrotin, the once dominant and now mostly dormant gallery in Wynwood – the only exhibit it will have this year. Replica will be performed at the Adrienne Arsht Center (1300 Biscayne Blvd.) on Friday, Nov. 12 at 8 pm.; tickets cost $25; call 305-949-6722, or go to arshtcenter.org. The second performance takes place at the Museum of Contemporary Art (770 NE 125 St., North Miami) on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.; tickets cost $10 for members $15 for non-members; call 305-893-6211. Originally published by the Miami New Times in November 2010.