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Gavin Bryars's BIPED at Bayerisches Staatsballett

Dec. 17, 2013

Gavin Bryars's <em>BIPED</em> at Bayerisches Staatsballett

On January 10, the Bayerisches Staatsballett added Merce Cunningham’s BIPED, with music by Gavin Bryars, to its repertory. The performance was part of the company’s “Exits and Entrances” program, which presents BIPED alongside Richard Siegal’s unitxt.

BIPED, scored for violin, cello, electric guitar, double bass, electric keyboard, and pre-recorded tape, was composed in 1999. For this occasion, Bryars wrote the score apart from Cunningham’s choreography in order to ensure an incidental relationship between the music and dance. Bryars took inspiration from the staging and design, which, created by Shelly Eshkar and Paul Kaiser, consists of video motion capture to project the movements of the dancers. Bryars adds:

In BIPED there is live dance and its digital shadow through the projected video animation (curiously, like the very first piece I saw, projected on to a front gauze) so I chose to have a form of digital replication within the music. The live instruments (electric guitar, cello, electric keyboard, acoustic double, violin and percussion) are reinforced by their electronic equivalents.

The Gavin Bryars Ensemble and Merce Cunningham Dance Company premiered BIPED on April 23, 1999 at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, California. It is comprised of six sections that are performed without pause. The Bayerisches Staatsballett performances from January 10 through 12 took place at the Prince Regent Theater in Munich, Germany.

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Gavin Bryars
BIPED (1999)
for ensemble and pre-recorded tape