Choreographer Allison Plamondon on Merce Cunningham

Editor's Note - This is part of Picture this Post's series - CHOREOGRAPHERS' EYES - DANCERS EXPLAIN DANCE. Find more here.

Watch this video trailer for the movie CURFEW and you see immediately that Allison Plamondon's choreography played no small part in helping this short film win an OSCAR that year and a long, long list of other film awards worldwide prior.

Allison Plamondon
Allison Plamondon-- dancer, choreographer, actress Photo: Keri Uribe
Allison Plamondon
Allison Plamondon at work with the cast of Academy Award winning film CURFEW, showing them how to make the moves she choreographed Photo: Charlotte Jardat-Katz

Actually that gig came about more as happenstance.  Allison, a native of Canada, had moved to New York City with the express goal of breaking the artistic ceiling -- both as a dancer/choreographer and actress--that she felt in Toronto.  Little did she know that one of the first artistic buddies she made in New York, musician and filmmaker Shawn Christensen,  would end up hitting the cinema award jackpot with one of his first films.

From Toronto to New York

Meet Allison Plamondon for just a few minutes and you can guess that filmmaker Shawn Christensen could probably spot her talent. You sense she's very insightful and also deeply committed to her art.  Even better, she has that incredible congeniality and easygoing ways that makes her a poster girl for the stereotype of CANADIANS-ARE-SO-DARN-NICE!

In terms of Allison Plamondon's choreography, also take a look at this video of her more recent autumn 2016 work, The Tchaikovsky Vignettes.

The Tchaikovsky Vignettes Teaser from Allison Plamondon on Vimeo.

 

Choreographer Allison Plamandon
Choreographer Allison Plamandon
Allison Plamondon
Photo: Michele I. Arazi
Allison Plamondon

Allison, when she was faced with a last minute cancellation of the MCA Merce Cunningham tour for choreographers that she had flown in to Chicago to attend, remained unflappingly congenial.   It was the kind of cancellation after so much effort to get there that might make others cranky or worse.  Not so with Allison Plamondon.  She, and fellow choreographers went on a self-guided tour -- and then she went out to a restaurant with newfound Chicago choregrapher friends.

Later, Allison took the time to share her comments about the MCA "Merce Cunningham: Common Time" exhibit with Picture this Post (PTP) readers.

Here is what she says...

 Allison Plamondon on Merce Cunningham

PTP:  Before seeing this exhibit-- how much did you know about Merce Cunningham?

AP:  "I knew who Merce Cunningham was of course and had seen numerous video clips as well as the full video of Biped.

"The exhibit really struck me as a reminder of how incredibly prolific he was and how exceptional his longevity is. I better get moving!

PTP:  How would you describe Cunningham's contributions?

AP:  "I feel like we take for granted how revolutionary Cunningham's work is/was and how it laid the groundwork for the freedom that choreographers can have today. He did not seem to adhere to the rules of ballet—the structure, the traditional use of the stage, also the costuming Merce used often created obstacles for the dancers instead of "beautifying" as they would in ballet. 

"...dance has evolved so much because of his choreography that his work now seems like the norm.

PTP:  Which parts of the MCA exhibit did you especially like?

AP:  "My favorite part of the exhibit was the immersive feeling of the multiple screens. You felt like you were a part of the dance!

"I also love how they framed the exhibit to focus on collaborations. It is a very different idea for me to think of a collaboration being work that the artists come to separately, then putting everything together at the last minute. It also made me think about how that must have been for Cunningham and Cage, who were obviously so involved in each other's lives.

"...I have read some of Cage's love letters to Cunningham—swoon!

"How did they create their work so separately? 

"I also marveled at how much trust Cunningham must have had with each of his collaborators to let them do their own work , instead of hashing it all out in a room together."

 

Stay tuned to these pages to learn more about Allison Plamondon and her views on dance and theater in the coming months.

And, read more about "Cunningham Through Choreographers' Eyes" here.

Editor's Note - This is part of Picture this Post's series - CHOREOGRAPHERS' EYES - DANCERS EXPLAIN DANCE. Find more here.

Note:  All photos and video courtesy of Allison Plamondon.

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