Photo: Julieta Cervantes
CPA Series

Big Dance Theater: The Road Awaits Us + Cage Shuffle: A Duet

April 6, 2023
7:30 PM

General admission tickets from $10–$25. See details below.

Co-founded in 1991 by Annie-B Parson, Molly Hickok, and Paul Lazar, Big Dance Theater is known for its inspired use of dance, music, text and visual design. Experience two of the company’s ambitious, philosophical pieces: The Road Awaits Us and Cage Shuffle: A Duet

In The Road Awaits Us—a piece based loosely on Eugène Ionesco’s absurdist first play, The Bald Soprano—Annie-B Parson stages a birthday party for a company of esteemed dance elders, including Brian Bertscher, Betsy Gregory, Meg Harper, Bebe Miller, Keith Sabado, Sheryl Sutton, Peggy Pettitt, and David Thomson. 

Cage Shuffle: A Duet is a playful duet in conversation with the pioneering work of composer and music theorist John Cage. In the spirit of Cage, Paul Lazar and Bebe Miller embrace chance to discover how speech and movement can combine to produce startling new connections.

“It’s hard to do justice to the freewheeling brilliance of Big Dance Theater’s combination of dance, theater, video and idiosyncratic imagination; suffice it to say you should see the work of Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar whenever possible.”

The New York Times


Tickets available for $25. $10 UNC-Chapel Hill student tickets available with valid UNC One Card. Additional discounts available. Visit our FAQ page for details.


  • Digital program book: Click here to access
  • Runtime: 1 hour, including a brief 5-minute pause between pieces
  • Intermission: None (brief pause)
  • Additional information: Visit our FAQ page


What: “More Than Just Music: John Cage’s Influence on Dance, Theater, and the Visual Arts”

When: Thursday, April 6, 2023, 6:30–7:20 PM

Where: Gerrard Hall

Join us before the performance for this thought-provoking talk by Roger Copeland, Professor of Theater and Dance Emeritus at Oberlin College. This talk will cover the career and the influence of John Cage, the inspiration of Cage Shuffle: A Duet. See below for more details.

Description: John Cage is one of the best known and most influential composers of the 20th Century. But his influence extended far beyond the world of music. Merce Cunningham would have been a very different choreographer were it not for his career-long collaboration with Cage. It was Cage’s influential essay from 1944, “Grace and Clarity,” which first proposed the sort of rapprochement between modern dance and ballet that  would come to characterize the choreographic vocabulary of Cunningham and to a lesser extent, Paul Taylor.  Similarly, Judson-era, post-modern dance drew many of its founding principles from Cage-inspired compositional practices. But there are equally strong, if less obvious, lines of influence to be drawn between Cage and the pop art of Andy Warhol, the “happenings” of Allan Kaprow, and the radical work of The Living Theater in the late ‘50’s and ’60’s.

About the Presenter: Roger Copeland’s books include Merce Cunningham: The Modernizing of Modern Dance and What Is Dance? He has published more than two hundred articles about dance, theater, and film in The New York Times, The New Republic, The Village Voice, Dance Theatre Journal, American Theatre, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Performing Arts Journal, TDR, Film Comment, Dance Magazine, Ballet Review, and many other periodicals.

This event is free and open to the public. No registration required.


Founded in 1991, Big Dance Theater is known for its inspired use of dance, music, text, and visual design. The company often works with wildly incongruent source material, weaving and braiding disparate strands into multi-dimensional performance. Led by Artistic Director Annie-B Parson, Big Dance has delved into the literary work of such authors as Twain, Tanizaki, Wellman, Euripides, and Flaubert, and dance is used as both frame and metaphor to theatricalize these writings.


For more than 25 years, Big Dance Theater has worked to create over 20 dance/theater works, generating each piece over months of collaboration with its associate artists, a long-standing, ever-evolving group of actors, dancers, composers, and designers. Big Dance Theater received New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards in 2002 and 2010; the company was awarded an OBIE in 2000 and BDT company members have received 5 other “Bessie” Awards and an OBIE award for their work with Big Dance. In 2007 the company received the first-ever Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award. 

Big Dance Theater has been presented around the world including France, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Brazil, Germany, and in the USA in venues including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Dance Theater Workshop, The Kitchen, City Center, The Performing Garage, New York Live Arts, The Chocolate Factory, Classic Stage Company, Japan Society, Under the Radar, American Realness, PS122’s COIL Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), Walker Art Center, Yerba Buena, On the Boards, UCLA Live, ICA Boston, American Dance Institute (ADI), Fusebox Festival/Austin, CounterCurrent Festival/Houston, and Spoleto Festival USA. Recent commissions have been from Les Subsistances in Lyon, Chaillot Theatre National in Paris, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Walker Art Center, Carolina Performing Arts, and the Old Vic/London. 

Additionally, in 2013–2014, the artistic directors and design team were invited to create a commission featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov, and under the Big Dance Theater creative umbrella in partnership with Baryshnikov Productions, Man in a Case toured nationally to Hartford Stage, Shakespeare Theater in D.C., Berkeley Repertory Theater, the Broad Stage in L.A., ArtsEmerson/Boston, and the MCA/Chicago.

“Few artists make categories seem as happily irrelevant as Paul Lazar and Annie-B Parson of Big Dance Theater in their exquisitely constructed collaborations.”

The New York Times

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