CriticalDance Forum

Merce Cunningham
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Author:  David [ Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:12 am ]
Post subject:  Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham passed away peacefully on Sunday night, aged 90.

Author:  David [ Tue Jul 28, 2009 2:53 am ]
Post subject: 

You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.
Merce Cunningham

I never met Merce other than to say "hello" in passing at the studio in NYC. Company class always used to follow the morning open class, and I always remember Merce used to come in and watch the end of our class. I will admit to finding his choreography sometimes a little difficlut to watch, but his style was always great to dance. There always seemed to be an internal rhythm to it. The above quote says it all, really. He is going to be missed.

Here are a few links to obituaries:

The New York Times:

The LA Times:,0,548608.story

The Times (London):

The Daily Telegraph (UK):

The Guardian (UK):

Author:  Dean Speer [ Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:21 am ]
Post subject:  From The Seattle Times

Seattle Times

I have a letter from him, addressed to me, in response to my inviting him many years ago when I was director of the Chehalis Ballet Center, to speak publically at Centralia College. His company was on tour to Seattle and then Portland, and I thought it might be a reasonable stop along the way (Centralia being halfway to Portland). I never really expected a response, much less a personal one. He explained that their time from breakdown in Seattle to setup in Portland precluded doing this but was also very nice and supportive.

I later got to know fairly well his sister-in-law (wife of Jack) who lives in Centralia. Peggy served on our ballet board and was so enthusiastic -- nice just like both her husband and brother-in-law.

Their daughter, Jody, and I volunteered together on a Gala committee for Cornish College. Jody, like her sister Jill and their mom, is super nice, energetic and a "go-getter."

I've got this great picture taken at the time -- the three of them *with* matching lipstick.

When Merce was honored 13 years ago by Cornish it was great to meet him, albeit briefly. [My job was to escort him to the dias for his speech, although he really needed no help and made his way up there just fine.]

When Merce and MCDC were in residence at Cornish in 1977, it was a big deal -- exciting for those of us that participated and most interesting to see this genius's work and creative process. He'd work by himself in one of the smaller studios everyday and then after our classes, would rehearse his company.

In preparation for the residency what had been originally the largest ballet studio but which was being used as "the" art studio was converted back to its former use and was neat to dance in.

One of John Cage's "circularly" written compositions was "played" out [and conducted] in the college's parking lot as part of the festivities. It worked except that the radio station those in their cars were to tune to on cue was written for New York stations, so it was even more random.

In my tribute piece on Nelle Fisher I mention how Nelle was once talking to Merce with they were both in Europe -- she teaching and he in tour. They had both been in Martha Graham's company together. She told me that she went backstage to talk to Merce, commenting to him, "I don't get it!" He quipped back, "There is nothing to get."

Cunningham was one of the many dance greats to have come out of the NW. I feel honored to have alighted in his presence and also that of his family.

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:13 am ]
Post subject: 

Another obituary, this one form the Independent: ... 63958.html

Apart from the performances I saw him give; I have a rather funny story about him. Back in the 1980's I went to a performance of his company at Sadlers Wells with a highly distinguished American modern dancer. During the performance I was mortified when my companion fell asleep. I woke him at the end and to my surprise he insisted on going back stage as he hadn't seen the company for a few years. He walked straight up to Cunningham and exclaimed "Oh, Merce, it was wonderful!" Merce was politely grateful but ever so slightly chilly. Was he, I wondered, eagle eyed and had spotted the somnolent dancer in the audience? Outside the theatre, I exploded and called my friend a lying toad reminding him he had slept through almost the entire programme. He calmly replied that he wasn't exactly lying as Merce was always wonderful and reminded me that after the show performers always want praise and reassurance. Strange that after all those years I still remember that so well.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Jul 31, 2009 12:39 pm ]
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The Seattle Times ran an editorial on Merce Cunningham, complete with photograph:

Seattle Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:27 pm ]
Post subject: 

In the Seattle Times, Jean Lenihan reports on the various components of the Cunningham Foundation's "Living Legacy Plan."

Seattle Times

Author:  ncgnet [ Wed Aug 05, 2009 7:11 am ]
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From Marcia Siegel in the Boston Phoenix: [url=]Giant's steps - Merce Cunningham (1919–2009)

Author:  ncgnet [ Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:14 am ]
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From Marcia Siegel in the Boston Phoenix: Sustainability - Merce Cunningham in the Park Avenue Armory ...

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