Tacita Dean

Frith Street Gallery | Golden Square

Tacita Dean’s new film, Craneway Event, 2009, is a 108-minute edit of a three-day rehearsal that Merce Cunningham led with his dance company in late 2008. Set in a disused factory on San Francisco Bay, the film pays unabashed homage to the late, then eighty-nine-year-old dance legend, who directs from a wheelchair with immense dignity. He is ever attentive and respectful toward his accomplished dancers, who move in silhouette against a wall of vast industrial windows overlooking a busy port. Behind the dancers ferryboats drift by; a pelican flies past. The sun rises and sets on these quietly productive days of rehearsal.

The dancers are like faceless bodies animating the shadows; only Cunningham is given recognizability. At one point his head seems framed by a halo created by the illuminated fuzz of his gray hair. The expanse of windows forming the long interior facade—well served by the

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