WHAT I REMEMBER IS THIS: a lot of dancers running and lunging across the stage, hunching and scrunching in no discernible pattern or story while the recorded soundtrack screeched and sawed in no discernible relation to the movement or a melody.
To my ballet-attuned eye and ear, it was all pretty weird. I’d never seen Merce Cunningham’s company nor heard John Cage’s music before that ’80s evening at City Center in Manhattan. But I knew the two avant-garde artists were important because just before I moved to New York they’d returned to Cornish school where they’d begun their lifelong collaboration 40 years earlier. Their three-week residency of master classes, performances, and exhibits in 1977 dazzled the Seattle art world.
We don’t always know what to make of the trailblazers among us until we can make sense of what they’re up to. Happily, thanks to years of attending dance performances at Meany, On the Boards, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, my cultural tastes have expanded since my first exposure to Merce Cunningham. This fall, as the company continues its global Legacy Tour following the death of its founder in 2009, Seattle will have its very last chance to see the Cunningham dancers perform. I can’t wait.
The coming cultural season will give Seattle plenty more opportunities to sample artistic risk taking. We’ll be getting to know our new symphony conductor, Ludovic Morlot, who professes a love for the great classical composers but promises an “explosive” season of new compositions inspired by Seattle music pioneers Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and Quincy Jones. On another stage, the members of the theatrical salon who call themselves the Sandbox Artists Collective plan live podcasts, and elsewhere, the gallery scene is being transformed by curators who show art in their homes. Over at the Nordic Heritage Museum fashion meets art meets stuff we’ve never seen before in a show curated by Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, known for her startling style collaborations with Björk.
Another radical thinker who appears in our pages is Andrew Villeneuve, a precocious young political activist who, for better or worse, has made a name for himself in local Democratic circles as Tim Eyman’s worst nightmare.
And then there’s our annual ranking of the state’s 100 best wines, accompanied by a prehistoric tale in which the ground was literally broken and scraped and scarred. Jessica Voelker’s evocative homage to Red Mountain terroir may forever change the way you taste wine. That’s revolutionary.
EDITOR IN CHIEF