merce cunningham company

Cage was destined to be his true love, as well as his work partner. He began investigating dance on film in the 1970s, and after 1991 choreographed using the computer program LifeForms. Such non-representational dance appears in many styles throughout history, but was not commonly used by ballet or Martha Graham, Cunningham's primary influences. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company returns to New York City—its home since its founding in 1953—for six historic final performances at the Armory, culminating a two-year farewell Legacy Tour that brought the Company to more than 50 destinations worldwide. Rauschenberg was also responsible for creating a new set for every show with items he found in the theatre. Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS)/Courtesy WNET-TV New York Archives Few dancers and/or choreographers have been so innovative and so passionate about their craft. Music: Conlon Nancarrow (from Rhythm Studies for Player Piano) The Merce Cunningham Dance Company returns to New York City—its home since its founding in 1953—for six historic final performances at the Armory, culminating a two-year farewell Legacy Tour that brought the Company to more than 50 destinations worldwide. Many of Cunningham's most famous innovations were developed in collaboration with composer John Cage, his life partner. Nelson A. Rockefeller Award, Purchase College School of the Arts, State University of New York While at Bennington, dancing legend, Martha Graham, asked him to join her dance troupe. He also had a short stint at George Washington University. During the mid-1980s, he was given a MacArthur Fellowship and also received honors from the Kennedy Center. The technique emphasizes clarity of form, coordination of torso and legwork, rhythmic accuracy, spatial awareness and virtuosity. A leading soloist in Martha Graham’s company, he formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company during a 1953 residency at Black Mountain College, in North Carolina. A Cunningham Technique class is a rigorous 90-minute class that includes a thorough 45-minute warm-up followed by a series of diverse movement phrases. Tiffany Award from the International Society of Performing Arts Administrators, New York NY, 1990 He created an original work for the video Westbeth (1974) in collaboration with filmmaker Charles Atlas[18] The computer program later became DanceForms and uses avatars of dancers with color-coded limbs as a platform for choreography. His approach to performance was groundbreaking in its ideological simplicity and physical complexity: he applied the idea that “a thing is just that thing” to choreography, embracing the notion that "if the dancer dances, everything is there." Dance in Video: Volume II. Fellow of the Academy of Performing Arts, Hong Kong Julie Cunningham & Company was established in 2017. [7] During this time, Martha Graham saw Cunningham dance and invited him to join her company. [13], In its later years, the company had a two-year residency at Dia:Beacon, where MCDC performed Events, Cunningham's site-specific choreographic collages, in the galleries of Richard Serra, Dan Flavin, and Sol LeWitt among others. As part of these celebrations, SummerStage will host, Merce Cunningham: SummerCool, an evening of performances guest curated by 92nd Street Y’s Catherine Tharin, featuring the Stephen Petronio Company, which has incorporated several of Cunningham’s radical theater work into its repertoire; Melissa Toogood, a Bessie Award winning, former member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company… Décor, Lighting, Costumes: Mark Lancaster, Ocean (1994) Impeccable timing, delicious jokes, moments of luminous clarity – Merce Cunningham's presence in his company's final season remains thrillingly vivid, writes Judith Mackrell “Computers are the future of dance,” Merce Cunningham announced to me at his company’s Christmas party in 1995. This does not mean, however, that Cunningham considered every piece created in this fashion a masterpiece. One of the most innovative artists of the 20 th century, Merce Cunningham employed a range of tactics to create his sometimes difficult dance productions that confounded and delighted viewers. He continued to lead his company until his death, and presented a new work, Nearly Ninety, in April 2009, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, to mark his 90th birthday. And there’s another twist: No former members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company — it was disbanded in 2011, two years after the choreographer’s death — … What’s wonderful about the Trust is that it licenses his work, so that it may be performed by modern dance groups today. There have been numerous exhibitions dedicated to Cunningham's work. Merce Cunningham, who has died aged 90, was one of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century, and the greatest American-born one. He subsequently studied at Mills College (1938) with dancer and choreographer Lester Horton and at Bennington College (1939), where he was invited by Martha Graham to join her group. This is why he danced. [18] Cage took it to work in his way of making compositions then; and he used the idea of 64—the number of the hexagrams —to say that you had 64, for example, sounds; then you could cast, by chance, to find which sound first appeared, cast again, to say which sound came second, cast again, so that it's done by, in that sense, chance operations. Cunningham used "non-representational" choreography which simply emphasizes movement, and does not necessarily represent any historical narrative, emotional situation, or idea. [Photo by Terry Stevenson. As a teacher in residence at Black Mountain College in the summer of 1953, Cunningham formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as a forum to explore his new ideas on dance and the performing arts. Cunningham was one of the first choreographers to begin experimenting with film. Skowhegan Medal for Performance, 2008 Another was deemed, “Mysterious Adventure”. In 1953, Cunningham gathered four other dancers and formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. On the occasion of his ninetieth birthday, Brooklyn’s Academy of Music put on a performance of his last work, which was titled, Nearly Ninety. Video of Roaratorio, by John Cage, and Sounddance, by David Tudor, as choreographed by Merce Cunningham for his dance company. Summary of Merce Cunningham. Music: David Tudor, Toneburst & Untitled (1975/1994) He made the switch to Seattle’s Cornish School of Fine Arts during 1937. While he was a teenager, he learned more about dancing, via a vaudevillian and circus performer named Maude Barrett. Facts about Merce Cunningham 3: Merce Cunningham Dance Company. His work is linked with certain art movements, including Dadaism, Surrealism and Existentialism. He remained with Graham until he started his own troupe, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, in 1953. (With John Cage, posthumously) the Wexner Prize of the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University, Columbus OH Merce Cunningham was a respected dancer and choreographer. They were collaborators who put on yearly recitals in New York City. Such a clear thing, this toss of a die, or a handful of pennies, and yet chance is the part of the Cunningham dogma taken on faith, and dimly apprehended. Merce Cunningham Dance Company in Assemblage. Décor & Costumes: Jasper Johns Soon enough, theater life became captivating. Bredow, Moritz von. Many of his pieces had sections or sequences that were rehearsed so that they could be put in any order and done at any time. Lighting: Beverly Emmons, Crises (1960) Décor & Costumes: Robert Rauschenberg, Plank Well, I took this also for dance. Cunningham’s lifelong passion for exploration and innovation has made him a leader Merce Cunningham's Final Bow After last year's death of its renowned choreographer, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company embarks on a final tour before disbanding and … During 1952, he made history by creating choreography (Suite by Chance) which was performed alongside electronic music. While receiving his formal dance and theatre training, he was spotted by the great dancer, Martha Graham, who offered him a chance to work in her company. Robert Rauschenberg, whose famous "Combines" reflect the approach he used to create décor for several MCDC's early works, served as the Company's resident designer from 1954 through 1964. Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) was an innovative modern dancer, choreographer, and dance company founder. The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, New York NY After moving to New York City, he spent six years performing with the Martha Graham Dance Company. Phrases from Merce Cunningham’s choreography are often included in the class. As a choreographer, teacher, and leader of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company,[2] Cunningham had a profound influence on modern dance. At this post-secondary educational institution, he became friends with John Cage, who was a composer. Often working with his life partner, avant-garde composer John Cage, Cunningham banished dance's traditional reliance on emotive narrative and instead infused it with a … Instead of finding out what you think should follow—say a particular sound—what did the I Ching suggest? Summary of Merce Cunningham. His dances featured a prism of moods and were characterized by sudden changes in movement which provided a lot of visual contrast. Born in Centralia, Washington, on April 19, 1919, Merce Cunningham studied modern dance under Bonnie Bird in Seattle. Cunningham formed Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC) at Black Mountain College in 1953. The major exhibition Invention: Merce Cunningham & Collaborators at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts closed on October 13, 2007. Composite image of Merce Cunningham pieces: (interior) Merce Cunningham Dance Company performing Anniversary Event during the exhibition of Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project at Tate Modern in London, November 2003; a screen shot of Décor for Scramble (1967) on Event for Television, 1977. Costumes: Daniel Arsham During 2012, the Trust set up a headquarters within the City Center in NYC. National Medal of Arts, Washington DC With a large company (16 members, including musicians, designers and administrators) and a packed schedule (30 stops in 14 countries), the tour was an expensive undertaking. His work not only shaped American modern dance and choreographic processes in the 20th and 21st centuries, but influenced music, contemporary art, and much more. Décor: Andy Warhol (Silver Clouds) Photo by James Klosty 1968. The final performance of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company was on December 31, 2011, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, 2007 All images courtesy of Beth Weinstein.] Costumes: James Hall He presented his first solo concert in New York in April 1944 with composer John Cage, who became his lifelong romantic partner and frequent collaborator until Cage's death in 1992.[9]. I was working on a title called, "Untitled Solo," and I had made—using the chance operations—a series of movements written on scraps of paper for the legs and the arms, the head, all different. [22], In 2009, Cunningham's interest in new media led to the creation of the behind-the-scenes webcast Mondays with Merce. Porselli Prize, Italy Lighting: Richard Nelson, Second Hand (1970) Coat of Arms of the City of Mulhouse, France After 1995, MCDC's music director was Takehisa Kosugi. A trio of exhibitions devoted to John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, and Merce Cunningham, curated by Ron Bishop, was shown in the spring of 2002 at the Gallery of Fine Art, Edison College, Fort Myers, Florida. Music: John Cage, Aria (1958) and Fontana Mix (1958) Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle WA, 2005 With Carolyn Brown, John Cage, Ashley Chen, Brandon Collwes. Other artists who have collaborated with MCDC include Daniel Arsham, Tacita Dean, Liz Phillips, Rei Kawakubo, Roy Lichtenstein, Bruce Nauman, Ernesto Neto, Frank Stella, Benedetta Tagliabue, and Andy Warhol. Décor, Lighting, Costumes: Mark Lancaster, Fabrications (1987) This led to a live dance for the stage, BIPED, for which Kaiser and Eshkar provided the projected decor. Such a clear thing, this toss of a die, or a handful of pennies, and yet chance is the part of the Cunningham dogma taken on faith, and dimly apprehended. By other provisions of the plan, the Merce Cunningham Trust, established by Cunningham to serve as the custodian for his works, controls his dances for licensing purposes; Cunningham associates prepared detailed records of the dances so they could be licensed and given authentic productions by other companies. Merce Cunningham, 1981. He was born in April of 1919 and passed away during the summer of 2009. [10], Cunningham lived in New York City, and was Artistic Director of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. For instance in his work Suite by Chance he used the toss of a coin to determine how to put the choreographed sequences together. Cunningham and Cage used stochastic (random) procedures to generate material, discarding many artistic traditions of narrative and form. Merce Cunningham, who has died aged 90, was one of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century, and the greatest American-born one. Each dancer was given a sequence of movements with which they could do as they pleased. He frequently used cards, dice and the I Ching (an ancient Chinese text, also known as The Book of Changes ) to decide compositional elements like body part, direction and number of dancers. In addition to his role as choreographer, Cunningham performed as a dancer in his company into the early 1990s. His avant-garde dance performances and innovative choreography earned him plenty of fans and lots of critical acclaim. Composite image of Merce Cunningham pieces: (interior) Merce Cunningham Dance Company performing Anniversary Event during the exhibition of Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project at Tate Modern in London, November 2003; a screen shot of Décor for Scramble (1967) on Event for Television, 1977. Gold Medal for Choreographic Invention at the Fourth International Festival of Dance, Paris, 1964 La Grande Médaille de la Ville de Paris (echelon vermeil) from the Mayor of Paris Cunningham created over 180 dances, many of which are in the repertories of ballet and modern dance companies worldwide. Merce Cunningham Biography. Costumes, Lighting: Robert Rauschenberg, Rainforest (1968) The Trust exists to ensure that this work is preserved, enhanced and maintained, and that the public has access to it. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company returns to New York City—its home since its founding in 1953—for six historic final performances at the Armory, culminating a two-year farewell Legacy Tour that brought the Company to more than 50 destinations worldwide. Cunningham choreographed almost 200 works for his company. As well, his long relationship with John Cage was heartwarming and very inspirational in term of driving him to produce his best work. In 1945, Cunningham departed the dance company of Martha Graham and started working with John Cage. Handel Medallion from the Mayor of New York City NY The American Merce Cunningham (born 1919) was a solo dancer of commanding presence, a controversial choreographer, an influential teacher, and an organizer of an internationally acclaimed avant-garde dance company. Mercier Philip "Merce" Cunningham (April 16, 1919 – July 26, 2009) was an American dancer and choreographer who was at the forefront of American modern dance for more than 50 years. In Sixteen Dances for Soloist and Company of Three (1951) Cunningham used Indeterminacy for the first time in this piece; the changing element for each show was the sequence of the sections. From 1971 until its dissolution in 2012, the company was based in the Westbeth Artists Community in West Village; for a time Cunningham himself lived a block away at 107 Bank Street, with John Cage. Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Lifetime Achievement, San Francisco CA Also, his visual art is represented by Margarete Roeder Gallery. He also received Japan's Praemium Imperiale and a British Laurence Olivier Award, and was named Officier of the Légion d'honneur in France. They also collaborated on a host of works, including “The Seasons”, which was performed during 1947, and “Inlets”, which was performed during 1952. Accessed 27 June 2015. Dance and Performance Award for Best Performance by a Visiting Artist, London, England After high school he attended the Cornish School of Fine and Applied Arts in Seattle, Washington, for two years. The original company included dancers Carolyn Brown, Viola Farber, Marianne Preger-Simon, Paul Taylor, and Remy Charlip, and musicians John Cage and David Tudor. The final meeting of the Board of Directors for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company was held March 15, 2012, in Cunningham's studio at the top of the Westbeth building in the West Village.[26]. MATA (Music at the Anthology) Award, New York NY We’ll discuss the early period of his life and then move onto his major career highlights. Charts were created listing elements such as space, time, and positions. Cunningham Technique ® was developed by Merce Cunningham to train dancers for his company. Lighting: Brian MacDevitt The music came from an avant-garde composer known as Christian Wolff. Barnard College Medal of Distinction, New York NY Works that he produced with these artists had a profound impact on avant-garde art beyond the world of dance. The dance piece was performed during April of 2009. From Merce's death at age 90 through the Board's last meeting in 2012, the Legacy Plan implemented his wish that the Company complete a worldwide legacy tour and then close. Music: Emanuel Dimas de Melo Pimenta, Short Waves & SBbr [23], The use of stage space also changed in Cunningham's choreography. Jacob's Pillow Dance Award The Merce Cunningham Dance Company O F ALL of the multiple innovations in the work of Merce Cunningham, the use of chance is the most confusing. "Rebellische Pianistin. In the summer of 1953, as a teacher in residence at Black Mountain College, Cunningham formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. They include Paul Taylor, Remy Charlip, Viola Farber, Charles Moulton, Karole Armitage, Robert Kovich, Foofwa d'Imobilité, Kimberly Bartosik, Flo Ankah, Jan Van Dyke, Jonah Bokaer, and Alice Reyes. His avant-garde dance performances and innovative choreography earned him plenty of fans and lots of critical acclaim. Merce Cunningham was an American modern dancer and teacher, most remembered as an innovative and influential choreographer. Video Design: Franc Aleu, 2009 In the use of chance procedures, Cunningham abandoned the more traditional structured form of dance. And it was done not to the music but with the music of Christian Wolff. Airs on American Masters, 9:00 p.m. Sunday, December 16, 2001, on PBS affiliates (check local listings). He took tap class from a local teacher, Mrs Maude Barrett, whose energy and spirit taught him to love dance. Contact Us Have a question or request? Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France, 1972 The Merce Cunningham Dance Company O F ALL of the multiple innovations in the work of Merce Cunningham, the use of chance is the most confusing. Cunningham began to study dance at 12 years of age. Merce Cunningham Company To Disband For more than 50 years, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company surprised audiences by rethinking the relationship between music and movement — … [21], Cunningham's lifelong passion for exploration and innovation made him a leader in applying new technologies to the arts. Suite by Chance (1953) was his first work made entirely through chance procedures. Swinston joined the Company in August 1980 and … 2012. BITEF Award, Belgrade, Yugoslavia Throughout his career, Cunningham choreographed more than 200 dances and over 800 "Events," or site-specific choreographic works. Cunningham asked Rauschenberg to make something for 'dance area' something "he could move through, around, and with” and from there, Rauschenberg created amazing sets and costumes for Cunningham dances for … I think one of the very primary things that happened then was the publication of the "I Ching," the Chinese book of changes, from which you can cast your fortune: the hexagrams. Nijinsky Special Prize, Monaco In 1953, Cunningham gathered four other dancers and formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. These days, Merce Cunningham’s spirit lives on through the Merce Cunningham Trust. Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts, Southern Methodist University, Dallas TX, 1985 In 1968 Cunningham and Francis Starr published a book, Changes: Notes on Choreography, containing various sketches of their choreography. Digital Dance Premier Award, London, England In 2009, the Cunningham Dance Foundation announced the Legacy Plan, a precedent-setting plan for the continuation of Cunningham's work and the celebration and preservation of his artistic legacy.[3]. Lighting: Richard Nelson (1970) Merce Cunningham just loved dancing. Carina Ari Award (Grand Prix Video Danse with Elliot Caplan), Stockholm, Sweden He died on July 26, 2009 in New York City, New York, USA. The official establishment of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company took place at Black Mountain College in August 1953. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company was founded in 1953 and disbanded in 2011 after Merce’s death. This Trust was created in 2000, by Cunningham himself, and it functions as the custodian for all of Cunningham’s work. Robert Swinston was named a Trustee of the Merce Cunningham Trust in 2009, and joined the Trust’s staff as Director of Choreography in 2012, following thirty-one years with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Herald Archangel Award, Glasgow, Scotland MacNeil-Lehrer Productions, 1999. Grand Prix of the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques, France, 1996 [18] [6] He attended the Cornish School in Seattle, headed by Nellie Cornish, from 1937 to 1939 to study acting, but found drama's reliance on text and miming too limiting and concrete. 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis, MN 55403 (612) 375-7600 Décor: Ernesto Neto, Other Animal Costumes: Robert Rauschenberg[28] Music: Radiohead, Sigur Rós New York Dance and Performance Award ("Bessie"), New York NY Merce Cunningham was a respected dancer and choreographer. Décor, Lighting, Costumes: Marsha Skinner, BIPED (1999) Merce Cunningham was an American modern dancer and teacher, most remembered as an innovative and influential choreographer. Cunningham earned some of the highest honours bestowed in the arts, including the National Medal of Arts and the MacArthur Fellowship. Reviewed by Rose Anne Thom. Comprising some 4,300 artifacts representing 150 dances, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company Collection (MCDCC) include décor and costumes by Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Rei Kawakubo, Roy Lichtenstein, Ernesto Neto, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol, among many others, as well as post­ers, studies and models, photographs, costume drawings, correspondence, ephemera, fabric samples, … Edward MacDowell Medal in interdisciplinary art, the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough NH, 2002 I recognized with great pleasure the games from “Signals” (1970) and a superb duet from “Interscape,” performed by Melissa Toogood and Brandon Collwes. Alexander Street Press. Merce Cunningham Biography. Chance became an integral part of his work. (Biography, 368 pp, in German). Nellie Cornish Arts Achievement Award from his alma mater, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle WA, 1995 Officier of the Légion d'Honneur, France, 2003 A Cunningham Technique class is a rigorous 90-minute class that includes a thorough 45-minute warm-up followed by a series of diverse movement phrases. His choreography for his own dance company was inspired by a range of unsystematic phenomena, which were utilized in order to determine structure. Being the collaborator that Merce Cunningham was, he hired the company’s first art director, Robert Rauschenberg in 1954 after working together at Black Mountain College. In 2009, MCDC premiered Cunningham's newest work, Nearly Ninety, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He was born in April of 1919 and passed away during the summer of 2009. Named a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress, Washington DC, 1999 During a seven-decade career, Cunningham was a dancer, avant-garde choreographer, film producer, multimedia artist, and teacher. He was married to John Cage. This performance at the University of Illinois in March of that year is the first time the group was billed using the “company” designation, according to David Vaughan, the Company’s long-time archivist. Merce always believed that people who committed their lives to dancing did so because they loved it. Cunningham, M. and Lesschaeve, J. Julie Cunningham & Company was established in 2017. The Merce Cunningham Trust website is a great place to access so much factual and interesting information about this American dance pioneer and his life and times. Canfield (1969) was created by using playing cards. He did not believe that dance needs a beginning, middle or end.[18]. Montgomery Fellow (Arts and Literature), Dartmouth College, Hanover NH, 2006 Lighting: Josh Johnson, eyeSpace (2007) In 1943, Martha Graham’s interest in his choreography motivated Cunningham to create more dance pieces. The Cunningham Dance Foundation announced the Legacy Plan (LLP) in June 2009. Dance can take place on any part of the stage; it need not even be frontally oriented, but can be viewed from any angle (at performances in Cunningham's studio, for instance, audiences are seated in an L-shaped configuration). Décor: Robert Heishman, Catherine Yass While at the fine arts school in Seattle, Cunningham decided to major in dance, rather than focusing on theater as he’d planned. Following two years of formal training and work with the dance company of Martha Graham, Cunningham started his own company in 1953 to experiment with concepts in modern dance. MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago IL, 1984 Airs on American Masters, 9:00 p.m. Sunday, December 16, 2001, on PBS affiliates (check local listings). Medal of Honor from the Universidad Complutense of Madrid, Spain MCDC commissioned more work from contemporary composers than any other dance company. He frequently used cards, dice and the I Ching (an ancient Chinese text, also known as The Book of Changes ) to decide compositional elements like body part, direction and number of dancers. [Photo by Terry Stevenson. Music: Mikel Rouse, International Cloud Atlas Danced for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (1984-1993), and White Oak Dance Project (1994-1996). He died in his home at the age of 90.[11]. (1992), This page was last edited on 20 December 2020, at 13:18. The career of Merce Cunningham (born 1919 in Centralia, Washington; died 2009 in New York City) was notable not only for its major achievement in contemporary dance but also for its many strong collaborations with major artists, designers and composers. Career Transition for Dancers Award, New York NY All images courtesy of Beth Weinstein.] Is represented by Margarete Roeder Gallery York. on through the Merce to! 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