This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Merce Cunningham Essay

1731 words - 7 pages

During the early 20th century, dance underwent a major revolution. Previously, dance, specifically ballet, was very rigid and structured. With the turn of the century though, many choreographers began experimenting with techniques and styles that transcended the traditional norms of dance at the time such as the legendary Merce Cunningham. Known for works such as Variations and Nearly Ninety, Merce Cunningham left his impact on the modern dance world with his use of chance operations, his collaboration with various artist and musicians, and later in his life, technology. An apprentice of Martha Graham, Merce went on to teach famous dancers, such as Paul Taylor, who would go on to leave their own footprint in the history of dance.
Born on April 16, 1919 in Centralia, Washington, Mercier Philip Cunningham was the second of three sons. His father, Clifford D. Cunningham, was an attorney in their small town and his mother, Mayme Joach Cunningham, an adventurous mother, who loved traveling the world, and Merce described to have, “an enormous energy and quite independent spirit (Merce Cunningham: A Lifetime of Dance).” At the beginning of his journey, Merce sparked his passion for dance under the study of Maude Barrett, a retired circus performer and vaudevillian (vaudeville was form of theatrical entertainment in the late 19th century and early 20th century, which utilizes pantomime, dance, dialog, and song, and is usually comical (Merriam-Webster)). Barrett was a fellow parishioner and neighbor of Cunningham’s, who ran the local Barrett School of Dance in Centralia. Here, he was paired up with Barrett’s daughter and learned the basics: tap dance. Eventually ballroom dancing would be added to his repertoire. Looking back in time, Merce would note that Barrett’s energy and passion shaped his outlook on dance stating, “It was a kind of theater energy and devotion she radiated. This was a devotion to dancing as an instantaneous and agreeable act of life. All my subsequent involvement with dancers who were concerned with dance as a conveyor of social message or to be used as a testing ground for psychological types have not succeeded in destroying that feeling that Mrs. Barrett gave me that dance is most deeply concerned with each single instant as it comes along, and its life and vigor and attraction lie in just that singleness. It is as accurate and impermanent as breathing (Merce Cunningham: Fifty Years p.15).” Because of this, Merce would see dance as a charged, living art. (Becker)
For college, he attended George Washington University, in Washington D.C. for a year before transferring to the Cornish School of Fine Arts in Seattle in 1937. At the time, the Modern Dance era was still in its infancy and due to its curriculum, Cornish was the perfect place to experiment and grow. Here, Merce was exposed to all kinds of arts such as drama, dance, music, painting, art, etc. The courses were taught by experts in their respective field. ...

Find Another Essay On Merce Cunningham

Biography of Martha Graham Essay

907 words - 4 pages artists as Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, and Merce Cunningham (Tenaglia). She had an idea that movement should be "fraught with inner meaning, with excitement and surge." Thus in 1926, as an entrepreneur she established her own dance company in New York City. At the same time, she had developed her own unique, highly innovative style that reflected other influences and a unique dance vocabulary that we can define any movement in modern dance

Dance Essay

681 words - 3 pages ;  Merce Cunningham was the first choreographer to not use “traditional” choreographic methods. He developed a new style of choreography. He did not believe dance had to have a certain storyline or theme. His theory of dance revolved around the idea of “movement for movements sake.” He felt that any part of the body can be used and the music, costumes design, lighting and the movements all have their own identity. He thought a dance can

Martha Graham

1013 words - 4 pages including Aaron Copland, Louis Horst (her mentor), Samuel Barber, William Schuman, and Gian Carlo Menotti. Her company was the training ground for future modern choreographers such as Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp. She created roles for classical ballet stars such as Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov, welcoming them as guests into her company. In charge of movement and dance at The Neighborhood Playhouse, she

Influence of Trisha Brown and Steve Paxton on Modern Dance

2428 words - 10 pages from the aesthetics of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham who worked with codified techniques, virtuosity and expressionism, whereas Brown saw dance as being of greater importance to the physical and mental process of the performer. Born in Aberdeen, Washington and studying dance at Mills College in California, Brown took improvisational workshops with Anna Halprin, discovering the concept of task orientated work. This knowledge would become

Danny Grossman Major Assignment

1339 words - 6 pages including, Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine. During the mid fifties Taylor’s promising talent was finally being recognised as he was handed the position as the major cultural centre for the arts in New York. Like Martha, Taylor was inspired by the everyday movement of a human beings on the street such as a simple person checking their watch or waiting for the bus and studied what they do and how they move in that situation. Paul wanted to

John Cage

4233 words - 17 pages entire existence the 23 years it remained open. The faculty and student body was made up of the most cutting edge thinkers of their time; R. Buckminster Fuller who pushed the era of engineering forward into the era of synthetic materials; Robert Rauschenberg whose famous "White Paintings" shocked the art world; and Merce Cunningham and his complete fascination with the human form and dancing. It was Cunningham who came with Cage when he first

E-commerce growth in New Zealand

2024 words - 8 pages companies the tools to respond to rapidly changing business environment as well as driving growth of electronic commerce. E-commerce brings many business opportunities. It also reduces risks.2.1 E-commerceWhat does E-commerce mean? It means on-line trading, buying and selling goods and services over electronic networks (Mike Cunningham, 2002).There are some very big changes going on in the way the world does business. These changes are

Martha Graham and her Techniques were Universal through Dance

1646 words - 7 pages modern day leaders in dance. Some of her more prominent pupils in the dance community were Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, and Merce Cunningham (Kisselgoff). Alvin Ailey inspired and taught by Martha Graham later went on to found his own dance company that still thrives today and still teaches “Graham classes”. Graham has influenced many generations of not only modern dancers but ballet choreographers, musical and opera choreographers, and

Artificial Intelligence in the Arts

2224 words - 9 pages , which is dance. The pedestrian movements of dance have existed for millions of years, stemming back to the Stone Age when humans used these movements in rituals and prayer. Innovations in dance came mainly from Europe, from great choreographers like Mary Wigman, Merce Cunningham, and Rudolph Van Laban. Van Laban’s choreography stemmed from the idea of pedestrian movement, that “dance is anything”. He created a way of composing his choreography on

Rebel Poets of 1950s

1821 words - 7 pages in a remote spot in rural North Carolina. Founded in 1933, Black Mountain College became one of America's most fertile training grounds for musicians, writers, visual artists, and performers. (Among the students and teachers at this outpost were Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Josef Albers, Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Cy Twombly.) It was during the school's final years in the 1950s that poets dominated the campus; their

The views of Isadora Duncan, Yvonne Raine and George Balanchine on the Nature of Dance

2671 words - 11 pages non-dancers in her work, something unthinkable at that time in the world of ‘concert dance’ where works of Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham prevailed. Rainer is a product of her time. Many of Balanchine’s choreographic choices were determined by music, as he valued visualisation of music through dance. In contrast, “Sounds and movements were often juxtaposed in arbitrary combinations” (Banes 42) in Rainer’s work. Furthermore, Balanchine held

Similar Essays

"Winterbranch" In Contexts Essay

2118 words - 8 pages This essay looks at Winterbranch, choreographed by Merce Cunningham, first performed in Hartford Connecticut, on the 21st of March 1964, accompaniment by La Monte Young and set design by Robert Rauschenberg. By placing Winterbranch in contexts with other art forms at the time, alongside current events of the time it allows me to establish an overall context for the work.By looking at Cunningham's complete chronology, Winterbranch is reasonably

Robert Rauschenberg Essay

597 words - 2 pages moved to New York as that the small town life of North Carolina was not suiting him. In New York with the excitement of the city he was able to better work and see what he was capable of doing. He worked closely with John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and later Jasper Johns. He was the first American to win the Grand Prix and the Venice Biennale. In 1967, he was made an honorary doctor of Grinnell College. He was invited to watch the lift-off of Apollo

Split Sides An Analysis Of Modern Dance

984 words - 4 pages in African dance with the emphasis placed on the connection of weight and gravity. Brenda Dixon Gottschild names five aesthetics that are present in African dance. A particular piece that draws attention to the relation of the five aesthetics to modern dance is “Split Sides”, choreographed by Merce Cunningham. In the piece the dancer is very distinctive and powerful in his movements. He often holds positions in an asymmetry stance which is a

Jasper Johns Essay

720 words - 3 pages Rauschenberg. Jasper’s art career began when he discovered the world of contemporary art sharing views with Merce Cunningham and John Cage. His work was revealed at Rauschenberg’s studio to Leo Castelli, a gallery owner who gave Jasper his first solo show in 1958. This led to his pieces being bought by the founder of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Later in 1963, Johns and Cage both founded the Foundation of Contemporary Performance Arts in New