Dance Capsule: Continuing Merce Cunningham's Dance Legacy

Jun 8, 2010

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a project to notate and preserve the theatrical dance legacy of Merce Cunningham.  It was decided that the Merce Cunningham Dance Company would disband two years after Cunningham's death and they are currently on their
final world tour. 

The documentation of his work is only one aspect of the Cunningham Legacy Plan. They are also taking on the task of notating his choreography and staging so that future performances of his work will be possible.  This complex effort involves researching videos, photographs, and the notebooks of Merce himself.

The WSJ's Robert Greskovic writes:
Reflecting, in part, Cunningham's well-known use of chance in putting together his choreography, as well as the changes he made during the life of his dances, there are variations in the archival materials. The videotapes don't always agree, as they captured performances from different casts. The notebook's phrases were sometimes altered by the choreographer in putting the dance on stage. Ms. Lent sees the dance capsules as celebrating "the puzzle that is always involved in staging" one of Cunningham's dances. She says today's interested Cunningham dancers, both veteran and novice, who have a real feel for studying these works and staging them, are a crucial link to keeping Cunningham's dances on the boards in the future. "You look at tapes and look at notes all you want, and when you work on bodies you discover something else and make little changes—so there's also going to be a place in the dance capsule for stagers' notes."

© Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2010
Click here to read the full article.  Also, a link to more information on the Cunningham Dance Foundation's Legacy Plan.

Tags: Merce Cunningham, Merce, Cunningham, legacy, dance, preservation

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