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Transcript of Merce Cunningham
Cunningham really liked to experiment with movement
he would choreograph around the dancer instead of around the center of the stage
the spinal column served as the axis of his choreographed movement as the dancers thrust their torso and limbs forward
used ballet movements, but without classical associations... 2006- decided he wanted to do a piece that involved the audience in the creative process
at door audience given iPods
audience selected the order of the songs Technology "movement by itself is what absolutely touches me. not when the movement describes something, but when the movement itself has life." -Merce Cunningham merce's background born April 16th 1919 in Centralia, Washington
had 2 brothers and was the only one who pursued dance
took tap dance lessons from Mrs. Maude Barrett
began his first formal dance and theater training at the Cornish Institute of Applied Arts in Seattle at age 20 (1937-1939)
training under Bonnie Bird
accompanied by John Cage
he was noticed by Martha Graham and danced as a soloist in her company from 1939-1945 in NYC
he had his first solo concert in 1944 with John Cage
in 1953 he founded his own company at Black Mountain College with Cage as Artistic Director
in 1964 he toured Europe for the first time performing in France and Austria John and Merce were together from 1940 until Cage's death in 1992 I knew it was theater. How, then I didn't know, but theater, obviously. -merce bringing chance to dance... "ballet became a playground of unlimited possibilities."
-Philippe Noisette BANU OGAN, Dancer: I remember sort of thinking, "I will never be able to do this fluidly." You know? And he gave me like a certain amount of foot changes, and then an amount of arm changes and he said, "Now, the arms go not with the feet, but you do them sort of fluidly throughout the phrase." And I thought, "There's no way I'll be able to do this." And then eventually it came, and I remember feeling like, "Oh, yay." And now it feels good, you know? ... small Extras Merce talking about his Method new ballet he premiered on his 90th birthday "Nearly Ninety" the only unity of the two is when the piece is performed, cage called it "a strict separation of powers." chance, chance, chance!
in 1951 Merce introduced the idea
movement decided by tossing a coin, flipping a card, rolling a dice, etc.
as well as the music and set
he always waited until knowing the venue before composing the structure of the piece; no two events were alike
used his own repertoire
made it a rule for himself that the choreographic and musical compositions must take place separately, dancers wouldn't hear the score until the curtain went up
Cunningham "redefined the relationship between the arts using only mutual co-existence." chance,
chance! 1970s did a lot of dance film
1990 started working with a computer program called "Dance Forms" that allowed him to try out new combinations
led to "Mondays with Merce" (webcast series) "Walk around time" 1968
walked around talked, etc.
dancers had no idea what was going to happen
merce started their warm up
had solo where he got changed Kennedy Center Honor, MacArthur Fellowship (1985), National medal of Arts (1990), Jacob's Pillow Dance Award (2009), Japan's Premium Imperial (2005), Officer of the Legion d'Honneur of France (2004)
trained Paul Taylor, Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, etc.
has 4 books and 3 major exhibitions dedicated to him
works have been presented by Ballet of Paris, ABT, White Oak Dance Project, and many more.
performed at Brooklyn Acadamy of Music
Very futuristic looking set
many pas de deux and pas de trios
with it wanted to "invent new forms of dance"
he performed for the last time in NYC - which is not the same as having theories about dancing or wishing to dance or trying to dance or remembering in his body someone else's dance - but if the dancer dances, everything is there... Our ecstasy in dance comes from the possible gift of freedom, the exhilarating movement that this exposing of the bare energy can give us. What is meant is not license, but freedom.... If a dancer dances, - MERCE