- Cédric Andrieux
In Cédric Andrieux, former Merce Cunningham dancer Cédric Andrieux humbly shared intimate details from his life in dance, taking time between revealing, autobiographic narrations to perform exquisite choreographic moments from his career. It is rare that a dancer with such a prolific career [End Page 125] as Andrieux's, whose performance included pieces from Philippe Trèhet, Cunningham, and Trisha Brown, would share such a thorough "behind the scenes perspective" in a seventy-five-minute solo. Andrieux's solo triumphed because it challenged the reality of dance's "curse of ephemerality" and won; with each important moment shared from his rich past life as a performer, he brought us back to the original moment of these performances and we experienced them anew as a simultaneous, reflective event. It was almost as though we were able to see the entire lifespan of these special dances in Andrieux's life: their birth, maturity, and then their passing as a cherished reflection.
Andrieux's solo structure was simple and elegant. He would introduce a choreographer's work, perform it beautifully, and then, after his dancing was complete, allow the realization of the dance's difficulty to surface. As the audience gratefully applauded, Andrieux, the consummate professional, remained focused. He did not acknowledge the audience's applause; there was no lighting change to transition him from Andrieux the "performer" back to Andrieux the "storyteller." It was just Andrieux, internally reflecting on what just happened, and the audience reflecting on this reflection. He took as much time as he needed to catch his breath or drink some water, the audience silently waiting for his next move. He walked upstage a bit as if to shake off the remnants of this dance moment before resuming his storytelling—a pattern that in other circumstances could seem indulgent, but here was not.
Andrieux's seven years with Cunningham's company made up the bulk of the performance, and, after Cunningham's death in 2009, this seemed ceremonially fitting. He demonstrated the precise and fixed warm-up exercises in a Cunningham company class, revealing which ones bored him mercilessly and which ones he thoroughly enjoyed. This "Cunningham portion" of the performance was further solidified when Andrieux exited the stage briefly and reappeared in a unitard, the typical and unforgiving costume and uniform of a Cunningham dancer. These transparent moments provided a peek into an otherwise off-limits scene: a Cunningham company class. Andrieux's execution of the warm up and his humorous commentary provided insight into Cunningham's theories of dance training, as well as Andrieux's dedication to and respect for Cunningham. This reverence was particularly evident after Andrieux reenacted a rehearsal with Cunningham, recreating the difficulty of learning his computer-generated choreography. This immediately brought Cunningham back to life and onstage with Andrieux. Andrieux gestured to the downstage right corner, where he positioned a feeble-bodied and elderly Cunningham for us to imagine, and restored a scenario in which Andrieux and his imaginary fellow company members in the space were to follow Cunningham's concocted dance steps. It was as though the choreography was a series of tasks one would follow in the instructions for assembling an IKEA furniture piece. As I watched Andrieux labor through Cunningham's nearly impossible physical prompts, I was at once voyeuristic—delighted and yet also embarrassed to be part of this unique rehearsal moment that was originally intended for those in Cunningham's company alone.
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Andrieux transitioned simply from these rehearsal scenarios to a live performance moment by almost whispering "I'm going to dance this for you now" and then beginning an excerpt of a famous contemporary choreographer's work. His use of an attached microphone headset took on a different role when he was dancing: instead of its functional purpose to simply project his speaking...