Ocean, 2011. USA.
Directed by Charles Atlas.

A document of a 2008 Merce Cunningham performance of the same name, Ocean is simultaneously a tribute to the legendary late choreographer and a testament to Charles Atlas’s singular mastery of capturing performance for the screen. Perhaps the most ambitious work of Cunningham’s career, Ocean was staged in a granite quarry in Minnesota, featuring 14 dancers and a 150-piece orchestra playing music in the style of John Cage. With a five-camera crew, Atlas filmed three performances of the piece and edited the footage to a 100-minute film, studying the nimble poses of the blue-clad dancers, but also the movement of workers setting up the epic production and two digital clocks on either side of the stage—lest one get lost in the slow poetry of dance. Atlas’s final Cunningham project, Ocean both celebrates and forms an important aspect of the intertwined histories of video, music, and dance. 100 min.

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