Merce Cunningham: 1919 - 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009 - 10:17 PM

We were saddened by the news this morning that Merce Cunningham has died. Cunningham was a giant of American modern dance and choreography – and an astoundingly talented dancer, who started his career dancing for Martha Graham, and appeared in his own company’s performances into his 70s.


We had the good fortune at Studio 360 to interview Cunningham in 2002 about his interest in chance as a principle of composition, and his embrace of computer-aided choreography:

My experience with it is that it is mostly visual--we look. And I thought, 'That's what you do with dance. You look at it.' So it seemed to me they were mated, so to speak. They haven't gotten along very well yet. But I think there's a really remarkable future, not immediate by any means, but future for dance with technology. I'm sure of it.

You can listen the whole interview HERE.

And in 2005, Bill T. Jones spoke on the show about Cunningham's status as an 'artist's artist':

Merce has freed himself from music, he's freed himself from storyline, from psychological motivation. Modern dance tried to establish long ago that it was nobody's sleeping beauty, that it was nobody's divertimento--for instance, in the opera world, when you want to show the inner life of the characters, you'll suddenly cut away and have a dance sequence. Well, modern dancers said, 'No, no, no, we don't illustrate some other form. We are a primary form.'

Hear the whole piece HERE.


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