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., he is regarded by some as the most important artist of his era.
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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 integral to 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); Inlets 2 (1983); 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 he died, his company made a legacy tour before disbanding (2011), but several former dancers have taught his technique, and many works continued to be performed.


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 ?
Un rasgo que es sumamente notable en la propuesta musical de John Cage, que tambien puede apreciarse en el trabajo coreografico de Merce Cunningham, es que ninguno de los dos se centro unicamente en su campo especifico, sus proyectos se caracterizaron por transitar constantemente entre disciplinas artisticas y por nutrirse de estas interacciones.
The two final pages juxtapose a poem by Garrison Keillor delivered at a recent benefit for the Merce Cunningham Foundation and a 1959 Rauschenberg combine painting titled Trophy I, which pastiches a photograph of Cunningham inside a splendid collage that is the visual analog of a Cage/Cunningham creation.
In the summer of 1953, while in residence at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, he formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
Whether or not you were at the Park Avenue Armory on the eve of 2012, when the Merce Cunningham Dance Company gave its final performances--the glorious home stretch of its two-year, international Legacy Tour--this beautifully shot and edited collection offers a fresh, transporting perspective on what happened there.
The Walker's acquisition of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's sets and costumes comes at a critical moment when museums are investigating what it means to collect performance.
As I write, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company is coming to the end of a month-long domestic segment of its Legacy Tour, in Chicago.
Although the Merce Cunningham Dance Company gave its last performance one year ago, Cunningham's works continue to be staged around the world.
Paik's musical indebtedness to Cage is most clearly heard on this CD in the 1977 piece "Prepared Piano for Merce Cunningham," originally recorded to accompany a Cunningham dance performance.
It was a historic moment when the radical modernist artist Marcel Duchamp worked with Merce Cunningham in 1968 to create Walkaround Time.