Suite by chance merce cunningham

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suite by chance merce cunningham

Chance and Circumstance: Twenty Years with Cage and Cunningham by Carolyn Brown

The long-awaited memoir from one of the most celebrated modern dancers of the past fifty years: the story of her own remarkable career, of the formative years of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and of the two brilliant, iconoclastic, and forward-thinking artists at its center—Merce Cunningham and John Cage.

From its inception in the l950s until her departure in the l970s, Carolyn Brown was a major dancer in the Cunningham company and part of the vibrant artistic community of downtown New York City out of which it grew. She writes about embarking on her career with Cunningham at a time when he was a celebrated performer but a virtually unknown choreographer. She describes the heady exhilaration—and dire financial straits—of the company’s early days, when composer Cage was musical director and Robert Rauschenberg designed lighting, sets and costumes; and of the struggle for acceptance of their controversial, avant-garde dance. With unique insight, she explores Cunningham’s technique, choreography, and experimentation with compositional procedures influenced by Cage. And she probes the personalities of these two men: the reticent, moody, often secretive Cunningham, and the effusive, fun-loving, enthusiastic Cage.

Chance and Circumstance
is an intimate chronicle of a crucial era in modern dance, and a revelation of the intersection of the worlds of art, music, dance, and theater that is Merce Cunningham’s extraordinary hallmark.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Published 18.05.2019

The Six Sides of Merce Cunningham

Other articles where Suite by Chance is discussed: Merce Cunningham: was thus determined, and in Suite by Chance () the movement patterns.
Carolyn Brown

Suite by Chance

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Brown vividly evokes the thrills and struggles inherent to true liberation, and describes the courage requisite to artistic inventiveness. Brown first saw Cunningham dance when she took a master class with him in There was a lightness of the upper body which contrasted with the solid legs, so beautifully shaped, and the heavy, massive feet. I could not repeat it. His dancing was airborne.

Closely associated with the composer John Cage since the late s, Cunningham established his own dance company in to explore ways to apply to choreography the same kinds of processes of chance that Cage was applying to music. By using chance operations Cunningham intended.
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Although he was himself a great dancer, he would become better known as one of modern dance's leading innovators. He wrought its transformation when he left Graham's troupe to form his own company in collaboration with his partner and lover, the avant-garde composer John Cage. With Cage, Cunningham arrived at a philosophy that informed his work for the rest of his life. He decided that dance need not be tied to music or story: pure movement was enough. Working with many composers most notably Cage and designers such as the artists Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, the only constraint he tended to offer was the length of the piece. His dancers would learn the intricate series of steps in silence, and only at the first performance would dance, music and set meet or collide for the first time. He was impatient with the quest to discover meaning in art; asked what one dance was about, he answered: "It's about 40 minutes.

Between the years of and the College hosted Cunningham and John Cage over five separate visits. In an interview, Cunningham recalled the impression left upon him by the unique communal dynamic cultivated at the College:. Black Mountain College … was … if I could call it that, one of the first interdisciplinary situations. It was a small school, but the disciplines of various kinds, both art and science, were mixed, and I remember one of the pleasures for me was that everyone ate in this large open room, the dining hall. And you sat at tables with people from totally different situations than your own.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Anne G. says:

    Merce Cunningham | artnet

  2. Barbara A. says:

    Condition: Not examined out of frame.

  3. Imdiracdisp says:

    The first public performance of "Suite by Chance" was at the Festival of Contemporary Arts, Urbana, Illinois in March, This was the first time the dancers.

  4. Whitney S. says:

    Chance Dance.

  5. Leixandre U. says:

    Although he was himself a great dancer, he would become better known as one of modern dance's leading innovators.

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