Not a Moment Too Soon at the Barbican
Friend and executive director to the founder and leader of one of the world’s most famous modern ballet troupes – the late dance legend Merce Cunningham – arts administrator and producer Trevor Carlson presents Not a Moment Too Soon, a portrait in a mosaic of words, music, video and movement directed by Ferran Carvajal. Including hitherto unseen footage of the choreographer, this intriguing piece is a heartfelt tribute to a unique icon.
While experimenting with a video self-portrait in 2001, Cunningham spoke the words “not a moment too soon” – a reflection of his attraction to Eastern philosophy – in reference to a sense of fragility and transience of existence. The idea fueled the project’s concept, a springboard for this exhilarating production, which incorporates video projected on panels showing moments of the artist’s life and work, accompanied by readings and narrations describing Carlson’s relationship with the master.
When in his late 70s, the subject’s own interest in the moving image evolved into an alternative means of expression at a point where he was no longer able to choreograph with his own physicality in dance. Carlson illustrates his friend’s final years with descriptions and anecdotes: he enjoyed cat imagery, Billie Holiday, musicals like Mamma Mia and the film American Beauty, which triggered his interest in video. His caretaker was once almost fired when – because of a late night club hook-up – he almost missed an appointment with him while on tour. Tidbits of the men’s life together are woven within a clever, original and eclectic multimedia collage, including some performances by the author – though he admits he was a mediocre dancer at Juilliard.
Following his mentor’s death, Carlson arranged a comprehensive two-year legacy tour and created a preservation trust for his work. This arrangement is his most personal and affectionate contribution. He delivers his one-man show with sensitivity, wit and cutting-edge composition. The piece’s seamless flow is a credit to director Ferran Carvajal, also a multidisciplinary artist and choreographer and the composer’s partner.
A farewell homage to a remarkable talent and friend, Not a Moment Too Soon is an informative depiction of Cunningham’s career and psyche. Thought-provoking, poignant, uplifting and very intimate, the work is an intelligent exposé providing a rare glance into the private world of a genius.
Image: Yoana Miguel
Not a Moment Too Soon is at the Barbican from 4th April until 6th April 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.