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Merce Cunningham 1919-2009. Merce Cunningham MERCE CUNNINGHAM, born in Centralia, Washington, received his first formal dance and theater training at.

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Presentation on theme: "Merce Cunningham 1919-2009. Merce Cunningham MERCE CUNNINGHAM, born in Centralia, Washington, received his first formal dance and theater training at."— Presentation transcript:

1 Merce Cunningham

2 Merce Cunningham MERCE CUNNINGHAM, born in Centralia, Washington, received his first formal dance and theater training at the Cornish School (now Cornish College of the Arts) in Seattle. From 1939 to 1945, he was a soloist in the company of Martha Graham. He presented his first New York solo concert with John Cage in April 1944.

3 Merce Cunningham After five years as a soloist in the company of Martha Graham, he began choreographing independently, first in solo concerts, then in 1953 he formed his own company, whose fiftieth anniversary was celebrated in 2003.

4 Merce Cunningham Merce Cunningham Dance Company was formed at Black Mountain College in the summer of Since that time Cunningham has choreographed nearly 200 works for his company.

5 Merce Cunningham Cunningham is not interested in telling stories or exploring psychological relationships: the subject matter of his dances is the dance itself.

6 Merce’s Technique Instead of telling a story, Merce was more interested in movement for its own sake. He strived to incorporate into his technique both the modern dancers’ emphasis on the torso and spine and the ballet dancers’ use of arms and legs.

7 Merce’s Approach Cunningham believed that dance and its musical accompaniment co- exist in the same time and place, but that neither should be dependent upon the other.

8 Merce’s Approach Some of his works are performed in silence, while others were the result of a lifelong collaboration with the innovative composer and theorist John Cage.

9 Merce Cunningham In his many works for the company, he has been noted for his collaborations with contemporary visual artists and musicians, especially with John Cage, his life partner from the 1940s until Cage’s death in 1992.

10 Merce Cunningham In the course of their work together, they proposed a number of radical innovations. The most famous and controversial of these concerned the relationship of dance and music, both of which are time arts.

11 Merce Cunningham Therefore, they came to the conclusion that the two should exist independently, occurring in the same time and space but without supporting or being connected to one another in the usual way.

12 Merce and Collaborations The artist Robert Rauschenberg designed the costumes, lights and sets for many of the early pieces.

13 Merce and Collaborations Often the choreographer did not know what atmosphere he was creating until the opening performance where the dance, music, décor, costumes, and lights were united for the first time.

14 Merce Cunningham Both Cunningham and Cage made extensive use of chance procedures, which meant that not only musical forms but narrative and other conventional elements of dance composition, such as cause and effect, climax and anticlimax, were also abandoned.

15 Chance Dance Cunningham explored “chance dance” a semi- improvisational form of choreography in which set movements were rearranged for each performance in terms of sequence, location and dancers involved.

16 Chance Dance In defense of his technique, which defied expected traditions and sometimes bewildered audiences, he stated, “What is the point of doing what you already know?”

17 Merce and Film His pioneering work in video and film, collaborating with filmmakers Charles Atlas and later Elliot Caplan, enlarged the possibilities of choreography for the camera.

18 Merce and Film In 1999 the collaboration with Atlas was resumed with the production of the documentary Merce Cunningham: A Lifetime of Dance. In 2004/2005 they collaborated again on a new piece whose final form is in two versions, Views on Camera and Views on Video.

19 Merce Cunningham Merce Cunningham Dance Company | About Merce Cunningham’s dances have often been described as having much in common with Dada (collage structures) and Zen (multiplicity of centers).

20 Merce Cunningham This does not mean that the dances are formless, but their structure is organic, like something in nature, not preconceived and imposed on the material. But there is no improvisation: the dancers know precisely what they are going to do before they go on stage.

21 Dance Forms Merce Cunningham has been extending the frontiers of choreography for more than half a century, most recently with his use of the computer program Life Forms now called DanceForms.

22 DanceForms Cunningham's interest in contemporary technology has led him to work with the computer program DanceForms, which he has used in making all his dances since Trackers (1991).

23 Dance and Technology In 1997 he began work in motion capture with Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar of Riverbed Media to develop the decor for BIPED, with music by Gavin Bryars, first performed in 1999 at Zellerbach Hall, University of California at Berkeley.

24 Motion Capture

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