Choreography / 1999


Cunningham has written: "The dance gives me the feeling of switching channels on the TV...the action varies from slow formal sections to rapid broken-up sequences where it is difficult to see all the complexity." Many people have commented on the elegiac nature of the closing moments of the piece. The décor for BIPED is an exploration of the possibilities of the animation technology of motion capture. The digital artists Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar collaborated with Cunningham, who, working with two dancers, choreographed 70 phrases that were transposed into digital images. These animated images, as well as abstract patterns (vertical and horizontal lines, dots, clusters), are projected on to a scrim at the front of the stage, behind which the live dancers may be seen. Cunningham also used computer software, DanceForms, to develop the choreography for the dance, which is in a number of sections: solos, duets, trios, and ensemble dances. The music by Gavin Bryars, also called Biped, is partly recorded and partly played live on acoustic instruments. Suzanne Gallo’s costumes use a metallic fabric that reflects light. At one point in the dance the men, clothed in pajama-like outfits in a transparent fabric, bring on tops in the same fabric for the women. Aaron Copp devised the lighting, dividing the stage floor into squares lit in what looked like a random sequence, as well as the curtained booths at the back of the stage that permit the dancers to appear and disappear.


Premiere Date

Apr 23, 1999

Premiere Venue

Zellerbach Hall, University of California

Premiere Location

Berkeley, CA


Gavin Bryars, Biped


Paul Kaiser

Shelley Eshkar


Suzanne Gallo


Aaron Copp


45 minutes

Original Cast

Lisa Boudreau

Thomas Caley

Holley Farmer

Maydelle Fason

Jean Freebury

David Kulick

Matthew Mohr

Banu Ogan

Glen Rumsey

Daniel Squire

Jeannie Steele

Derry Swan

Robert Swinston

Cheryl Therrien

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