Merce Cunningham

cunningham

Born in 1919 and still dancing at 90 in 2009 when he died, Merce Cunningham changed the face of abstract and modern dance. He began choreographing in 1943, and didn’t stop until 2009, just months before his death. He became a dancer of the Beat Generation; instead of evoking change through literature, he did it through dance. Merce established the concept of “choreography by chance” with which he would randomly select the movements to be used in his various works. He also freed his choreography of any concept of cause and effect, storyline, and emotional or psychological connection. He believed the movement should be free of the music, and his dancers sometimes didn’t hear the score until the dress rehearsal or the first performance. Cunningham freed dance of many things and focused on the movements themselves. His dancers weren’t pretending to be anything but themselves. He once said, “you are not necessarily at your best, but at your most human.” (PBS).

~Kendall Reasons

Sources: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/merce-cunningham/a-lifetime-of-dance/566/

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/146610/Merce-Cunningham

Image: https://www.artsjournal.com/tobias/2012/01/one-last-time.html

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