Interview with Nina Fonaroff, 1980-07-30

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Interview with Nina Fonaroff, 1980-07-30
Merce Cunningham Dance Company (Associated name)
Fonaroff, Nina (Interviewee)
Vaughan, David, 1924- (Interviewer)

Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1980-07-30
Place: London, England
Library locations
Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound
Shelf locator: *LTC-A 1196
Fonaroff, Nina
Cunningham, Merce
Graham, Martha
Martha Graham Dance Company
Merce Cunningham Dance Company
American document (Choreographic work : Graham)
Credo in us (Choreographic work : Cunningham and Erdman)
Every soul is a circus (Choreographic work : Graham)
Content: David Vaughan interviews Nina Fonaroff in London, England, on July 30, 1980. This interview was created as research for David Vaughan's book, Merce Cunningham: Fifty years (New York, Aperture).
Content: Title, date and location provided by cataloger based on audition and handwritten note on original container.
Content: Handwritten note on original container: "1. Interview with Nina Fonaroff, London 30 July 1980 ; 2. Interview with Marianne [Preger-]Simon, New York 27 March 1983".
Numbering: Donor's inventory number: C373.
Content: Contains side 1 of the archival original cassette.
Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.
Physical Description
Extent: 1 audiocassette (47 minutes) : analog
Sound quality is fair; the volume is low overall and the interviewee speaks some distance away from the microphone.
Begins abruptly, [there are several false starts to the interview until ca. 1:36], Nina Fonaroff speaks with David Vaughan about Merce Cunningham performing with the Martha Graham Dance Company in the Graham's Every soul is a circus (1939), Appalachian spring (1944), and Punch and the Judy (1941); they speak about the Bennington College concert in 1942 that Fonaroff co-presented with Cunningham [and Jean Erdman]; [brief interruption, ca. 6:41]; Vaughan speaks briefly about the text Cunningham wrote for Credo in us (1942) and mentions the other duets that Cunningham performed with Erdman at Bennington; Fonaroff speaks about the "animal" quality of Cunningham's dancing and choreography, especially his being vulnerable, practical, and articulate; she speaks about the experimental dance lessons that Valerie Bettis, Cunningham and herself taught each other; she speaks about Cunningham's study of ballet as well as his uniqueness in coming from a differing dance background from the rest of the Graham Company; Fonaroff speaks about taking ballet classes outside of the Graham Company and her subsequent leave from taking classes with Graham; they speak about Cunningham's working with Ballet Society [on his Seasons (1947)] and examples of ballet and modern dancers studying each other's technique; Fonaroff speaks about co-choreographing a duet with Cunningham for a commissioned score given to Graham, performed only once; she speaks about a shift in Graham's choreographic methods including her creation of sequences that were never used in performance; her leaving the Graham Company in 1946, a year after Cunningham; Vaughan speaks about how Cunningham was initially seen as iconoclastic; Fonaroff mentions her plans to show a film of RainForest (1968) at a summer school where she teaches; she tells an anecdote about a screening of Doris Humphrey's works that sparked a debate by the students; Fonaroff speaks more about Cunningham as an artist and her friend; [ca. 29:30-34:25, they look through photographs as Fonaroff describes aspects of them]; they continue to speak about Cunningham's roles as a dancer in Graham's Company; Fonaroff's dislike of dancing in Graham's American document (1938); her recollection of being in Miami with the Graham Company when World War II broke out as well as touring during World War II; changes to Graham's work when men began to join the Company; she speaks about Graham's early works, especially seeing Graham perform while a student at Cornish College of the Arts in the mid-1930s; returning to New York to dance with Graham including the usual daily Company schedule; she speaks about her pay while in Graham's Company, joining AGMA [American Guild of Musical Artists], and teaching to make her living; ends abruptly.
Type of Resource
Sound recording
RLIN/OCLC: 913795283
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20730815
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 095f08b0-b8cd-0133-bcf9-60f81dd2b63c
Rights Statement
This item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Item timeline of events

  • 1980: Created
  • 2024: Found by you!
  • 2025

MLA Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Nina Fonaroff, 1980-07-30" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1980.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Nina Fonaroff, 1980-07-30" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 21, 2024.

APA Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. (1980). Interview with Nina Fonaroff, 1980-07-30 Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (sound recording) Interview with Nina Fonaroff, 1980-07-30, (1980)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=May 21, 2024 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Nina Fonaroff, 1980-07-30