MERCE CUNNINGHAM HAS DIED

My friend Deborah just alerted me to this horrible news. One of the world’s great pioneer choreographers has just died (last night; the news was released this morning). We all knew this was coming at some point; he was 90 (and still choreographing, often from his bed). But I think many thought he was one of those who’d make it to 100 or past. This on the heels of news of Pina Bausch is devastating to the dance world. So, his recent program at BAM is his last…

Cunningham’s work was groundbreaking in its use of technology, its questioning whether dance needs music (he collaborated with music pioneer John Cage and his works were often danced to silence or to sound that the dancers heard for the first time during the first performance), its questioning of what “performance” is (he would often use chance encounters), and in creating an original (and sometimes controversial) movement language.

But others, like NY Times chief critic Alastair Macaulay, knew his work much better than I (Macaulay was a great admirer of Cunningham, as was Mikhail Baryshnikov), so I’ll await his full Times obituary.

How awful.

Above image taken from Great Dance.

4 Comments

  1. Anne Coburn Whitmore

    Oh, wow. RIP.

    I know this may not be true, but it *seems* this way, or at least it feels like this, to me: it seems like the universe is having some kind of converging-thing going on right now … so many important people in dance have recently left this world, so many within the past half year or so. (including my much-beloved childhood ballet teacher.) Things just feel like they are shifting, almost. Whether it be in leaving this earth, or in having to leave a profession/company to which one has devoted their life, I hope that all these wonderful, talented people have a sense, wherever they may be now, of how much they gave to those who were lucky enough to have witnessed their talent and art; to those they gave so much, they will never be forgotten.

    Thanks for your coverage, as always, of the dance world. It means a lot, and is very much appreciated -by little old me, and probably many others like me out there.
    – Anne

  2. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Thank you Anne! I know, what's going on right now in the dance world?! In the universe? I can't believe it. Things do feel like they're shifting. I'm sorry to hear about your childhood ballet teacher. It's the most upsetting of course when it's someone you know personally.

    I know, I feel the same way about the NYCB dancers who were laid off. I haven't written about it because I really don't know what to think (in terms of blame I mean). But I hope that once the recession is over (please let it be soon!) they can all get jobs again. I don't see any reason whatsoever why they should have to leave dance — that's ridiculous. They're all extremely talented and they can get jobs elsewhere pretty easily I'd think coming from NYCB — I mean, when the economy improves.

    Anyway, thank you for your always very eloquent thoughts and your kind words on my blog, Anne. I also saw your comment on my previous post about my reading (and Christopher Wheeldon :) ) — thank you for that too! I'll definitely let people know when the first novel's out!

  3. Anne Coburn Whitmore

    :) – thank YOU!
    – Anne

  4. Anne Coburn Whitmore

    :) – thank YOU!
    – Anne

Comments are closed