Saturday, August 1, 2009

Merce Cunningham, April 16, 1919–July 26, 2009

Merce Cunningham, a pioneer of modern dance, passed away last week. He formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1953 and choreographed nearly 200 works for it.

A little history brought to you from the BBC news:

Born just after World War I in a small town near Seattle, Cunningham loved to dance as a child.

From 1939 to 1945, he was a soloist in the company of Martha Graham, regarded at the time as one of the foremost pioneers of modern dance.

He presented his first New York solo concert in April 1944, with music from composer John Cage, who became his life partner and frequent collaborator until Cage's death in 1992.

In a radical move, the couple decided to end the traditional marriage of movement and music, saying that both arts should exist independently even when sharing the same space.

Cunningham also abandoned conventional storytelling through ballet to focus entirely on the poetry of dance.

He even tossed coins or threw dice to determine steps, saying the use of chance was "a present mode of freeing my imagination from its own cliches".

He was hugely admired by other dancers and worked with visual artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol.

Cunningham's work has been presented by the New York City Ballet, Zurich Ballet and the Rambert Dance Company among others.

Among the accolades he received over his long career included the Kennedy Center Honors in 1985 and the National Medal of Arts in 1990.

For more information about Cunningham and the company he founded go here. To see some inspiring footage of the dancer at work go here.

1 comment:

  1. inspiring blog you have..nice themplate..interesting picts..and posts.GRATZ!