August Pace: 1989-2019
30 years after the premiere of Merce Cunningham's August Pace, this film records the passing-on of an iconic work from the original performers to a new generation of dancers.
Directed by Daniel Madoff
Produced by Patricia Lent, Kenneth Tabachnick
Editor/Camera: Daniel Madoff
Music: Josh Madoff
A Merce Cunningham Trust Production
Thirty years after the world premiere of legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham's August Pace, the original cast members gather in a New York City studio for the first time to teach their roles to a younger generation. Their reunion is a grand experiment in group transmission where the older dancers rediscover the work only to let it go and see it anew as observers.
"An illustration in the seldom witnessed process of restaging dance choreography." Liz Maxwell, Assoc Prof, Dance, Chapman Univ
In this fly-on-the-wall documentary, we witness the original cast both in archival footage and in the studio as, with touching poignancy and humor, they grapple with movement they danced in their prime. The young artists, making the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, eagerly draw on their predecessor's knowledge to take on these same challenges with fresh energy and determination.
Along the way, new bonds are formed against a background of memories, stories, and laughter.
Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2023
Copyright Date: 2022
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-94-1
"Moment after moment, the dancing makes one catch one's breath. As each dancer speaks about the experience, you feel the fun, excitement, and beauty that made them likewise catch their own breaths."
Alastair Macaulay, former chief dance critic, New York Times
"This is a wonderful documentary. August Pace reminds me of why these concepts of Cunningham are so affecting and powerful. The process begins with a focus on pure movement. The bond that dancers all over the world share stem from our collective love of movement. Then, in the analysis of Cunningham's choreography, we can simultaneously recognize the importance of the individual as a necessary part of the whole. Real people moving in space together; that IS the story. Isn't that true of humanity as well?"
Teresa Chapman, Dance Program Director, Associate Professor of Dance, University of Houston
"August Pace: 1989-2019 [is] a going back in time, one that is so much more than the reconstruction of a dance from 1989....The film, a vivid glimpse of [the dancers'] focus, attention, commitment to what they recall in their present older bodies and lives, is enthralling. The love of the work, their brave work in the work."
Ralph Lemon, choreographer
"Dances live on for one reason and one reason only: the dancers - not administrators, not donors, not critics, not government officials, helpful as they might be. An excellent demonstration of this is documented in August Pace. There is no overall stager, régisseur, or coach in evidence; the effort is entirely communal. The life of the dance belongs to its performers, and the intellectual independence and sense of responsibility that drive the giving of the movement by the originals and the absorption of it by the work-shoppers make a terrific case for the beauty, risk, and dignity inherent in the study and performance of dancing on an Olympian level."
Mindy Aloff, Author, Why Dance Matters
"August Pace is an illustration in the seldom witnessed process of restaging dance choreography. We witness the challenges felt by the young performers and their teachers in surprisingly human ways. It also paints the picture of the choices, potentials, and realities of dancers during their performance and post-performance careers as it unearths the grace, elegance, and a knowing in the physical transmission of image from one generation to another."
Liz Maxwell, Associate Professor of Dance, Chapman University
"Daniel Madoff's fine film August Pace records the passing-on of an iconic Cunningham work from the original performers to a new generation of dancers. It takes a deep dive into the sharing, teaching, remembering, and learning - i.e. the constant sense of discovery and rediscovery - of the process. This film conveys joy as it demonstrates this central experience of dance reconstruction and how it happens."
Jeffrey Seroy, Trustee, Merce Cunningham Trust
"There is something seminal when older dancers return to a work they did 30 years earlier and teach their part of the duet to a younger dancer. It is about memory, legacy and passing it on to younger generations."
Stuart Kandell, Founder of Stagebridge and Artful Aging Associates
"August Pace is a vivid account of how 13 of the original cast members joined together to teach the dance in a workshop setting that familiarized young dancers with Cunningham's quirks: rehearsal without music; absence of explicit narrative; participation of the entire person in acts of performance and re-performance. We get to see the significance of oral transmission and how compelling the movement still is after thirty years. This is dancing: exuberantly precise movement, realized with exquisite flair, based on a technique offering so many entry points for generations of dancers to come."
Carrie Noland, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, University of California-Irvine, Author, Merce Cunningham: After the Arbitrary
|DVDs include public performance rights.
Merce Cunningham Trust's website
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... more Reviews
"Madoff shares an inside peek of a meticulous process of reconstructing Cunningham's August Pace. Weaving together the stories of the original dancers with the workshop dancers 30 years apart drives home the timeless impact of Cunningham's work, and its impact on the dancers who bring it to life. It is a gift to witness the care taken for both the accuracy of the choreography and for the support of one another as artists and keepers of this enduring work."
Missy Pfohl Smith, Director, Institute for the Performing Arts, Program of Dance and Movement, University of Rochester
"This is a beautiful documentation of how dancers can continue to thrive after the original performance and its dancers move on. August Pace reminds us that that a work has a life form of its own and that much of this life form lives in the body and soul of the dancers who originally performed it. This documentary helps us to question our value system and the important role of older dancers as harbingers and guides of hidden treasures of knowledge that can be passed to a new generation to keep the once ethereal alive and present."
Kate Monson, Associate Professor of Dance, Brigham Young University