Merce Cunningham

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Merce Cunningham
Mercier Philip Cunningham
BirthplaceCentralia, Washington
Dancer, choreographer

Cunningham, Merce

(Mercier Philip Cunningham), 1919–2009, American modern dancer and choreographer, b. Centralia, Wash. Cunningham studied modern dance with Martha GrahamGraham, Martha,
1894–1991, American dancer, choreographer, and teacher, b. Pittsburgh. Her family moved from Allegheny, Pa., to Santa Barbara, Calif., when she was 14.
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 and ballet at BalanchineBalanchine, George
, 1904–83, American choreographer and ballet dancer, b. St. Petersburg, Russia, as Georgi Balanchivadze. The son of a Georgian composer and a Russian mother, Balanchine attended (1913–21) the Imperial Ballet School, St.
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's School of American Ballet. A superb dancer, long-bodied, long-necked, and lean with an amazing ability to jump, he was a soloist in Graham's company from 1940 to 1955. He presented his first work in 1942 and formed his own company in 1953, creating innovative dances to the music of avant-garde composers, including his life partner and musical director John CageCage, John,
1912–92, American composer, b. Los Angeles. A leading figure in the musical avant-garde from the late 1930s, he attended Pomona College and later studied with Arnold Schoenberg, Adolph Weiss, and Henry Cowell.
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. His company began touring the world in 1964. His best-known early works include Suite by Chance and Symphonie pour un homme seul (both 1952), which reveal his spare, expressive style. Devoted to the new, Cunningham redefined dance. Often dealing with the isolation of dancers in space, his usually plotless works are composed of abrupt changes and suspensions of motion, some performed by autonomously moving dancers in chance sequence. Dances often occur in a decentralized stage space where movement and music both coexist and are independent of one another.

Cunningham also was known for collaborations with American artists, including Andy WarholWarhol, Andy,
1928–87, American artist and filmmaker, b. Pittsburgh as Andrew Warhola. The leading exponent of the pop art movement and one of the most influential artists of the late 20th cent.
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, Robert RauschenbergRauschenberg, Robert
, 1925–2008, American painter, b. Port Arthur, Tex., as Milton Ernest Rauschenberg. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, with Josef Albers at Black Mountain College, and at New York's Art Students League.
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, and Jasper JohnsJohns, Jasper,
1930–, American artist, b. Augusta, Ga. Influenced by Marcel Duchamp in the mid-1950s, Johns attempted to transform common objects into art by placing them in an art context.
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, who created sets and costumes that were integral parts of his productions. He created nearly 200 works for his company, appearing in all of them until he reached the age of 70 and dancing in many new works thereafter. During his later years he was widely considered the world's greatest living choreographer. Later dances include Locale and Duets (both 1980); Fabrications (1987); Trackers (1991), the first work he created with the aid of a computer; Crwdspcr (1994); Installations (1996); Scenario (1997); Biped (1999), a work employing motion-capture technology; Way Station (2001); Split Sides (2003), with music by the experimental rock bands Radiohead and Sigur Ros; Xover (2007); and Nearly Ninety (2009). After his death, his company undertook a two-year legacy tour and then disbanded (2011).


See his Changes: Notes on Choreography (1968) and The Dancer and Dance (1985); C. Brown, Chance and Circumstance: Twenty Years with Cage and Cunningham (2007); biography by D. Vaughan (1997); studies by J. Klosty (1975, repr. 1986), R. Kostelanetz, ed. (1992), G. Celant, ed. (1999), and R. Copeland (2004); C. Atlas, dir, Merce Cunningham: A Lifetime of Dance (documentary film, 2002).

References in periodicals archive ?
nd] Street Y, which is providing an opportunity for audiences to see the work of Merce Cunningham as it is embodied by these outstanding young dancers.
We thought that if we made that experience a little more accessible, then the public would understand Merce better from a teaching perspective and a choreographic perspective," said Trevor Carlson, executive director of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
The city-wide festival, which showcases the life and work of the legendary choreographer and will feature performances at the Center by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (in its inaugural visit to Miami), includes a music festival featuring the work of Cunningham's collaborators; a live performance by Sigur Ros; a rare public interview with Cunningham; workshops, lectures, and other creative collaborations with Museum of Contemporary Art, New World School of the Arts, Florida Dance Association, Miami Dade College, South Florida Composers Alliance, and the interdisciplinary Sounds Arts Workshop (iSAW) - producer of the Subtropics Experimental Music and Sound Arts Festival.
The Merce Cunningham Dance Company will present three different programs at Royce Hall.
These three pieces of music comprising BA BA TI KI DI DO were originally written for the Split Sides* performance of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the most recent dance by Merce Cunningham.
As the Merce Cunningham Dance Company prepares to close (see our photographic farewell, p.
To honor his dance company's fifty-year anniversary, several Portland cultural organizations are participating in a Merce Cunningham citywide celebration, which culminates in the February 11th performance.
and preface various screens, one of which shows, in a brilliant conceit, Merce Cunningham dancing (floating?
Now you can get inside the Merce Cunningham Studio from anywhere in the world.
Mounting a program of twelve exhibitions a year, the Museu de Serralves already has slated, for the second half of 1999, shows of El Lissitzky, Merce Cunningham, and a survey titled "Visual Poetry and Portuguese Experimentation.
Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) A titan of American modernism, visual artist Robert Rauschenberg collaborated with Merce Cunningham and John Cage early on, helping to define the startlingly contemporary look of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
Art Performs Life: Merce Cunningham, Meredith Monk, Bill T.