Merce Cunningham

On Sunday we lost a legend in the dance world, Merce Cunningham.  In honor of Merce Cunningham’s life and work, here are a few books, CDs, and videos that celebrate his career and collaborations:

  • Chance and Circumstance: Twenty Years With Cage and Cunningham, by Carolyn Brown: The partnership between Merce Cunningham and John Cage was both personal and professional. Carolyn Brown, a former dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company writes about their collaboration and work in the Cunningham Company from its early days in the 1950’s to the 1970’s. 
  • Chance Operation: The John Cage Tribute: John Cage was the longtime musical advisor for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.  This compilation includes recordings of Cage’s compositions by artists such as The Kronos Quartet, Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson, and Frank Zappa (performing Cage’s notorious 4′ 33″). 
  • David Tudor & Gordon Mumma: David Tudor collaborated with both Cage and Cunningham, and took over as musical advisor of the dance company upon Cage’s death.  This CD contains several of Tudor’s compositions, including a performance of Rainforest with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. 
  • Goddess: Martha Graham’s Dancers Remember, by Robert Tracy: Martha Graham was an innovative dancer who was also the teacher to many dancers who became famous in their own right.  Merce Cunningham, Rudolf Nureyev, and Madonna are among those she influenced.  In this book, many of her former pupils discuss her influence on their own careers. 
  • Merce Cunningham: A Lifetime of Dance: This video examines Cunningham’s influence on modern dance.  Interviews are interwoven with performances to give an overview of Cunningham’s career. 
  • Rauschenberg: Art and Life, by Mary Lynn Kotz: Merce Cunningham collaborated with artists in much the same way that he did with musicians.  Robert Rauschenberg worked with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company during its early years, and this biography explores his life and art. 


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