Interview with Merce Cunningham: and, excerpt from an interview with Mary "Molly" Gregory, 1967-12-18
NamesMerce Cunningham Dance Company (Associated name)Cunningham, Merce (Interviewee)Duberman, Martin B (Interviewer)Gregory, Mary, 1914-2006 (Interviewee)
Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials
Dates / OriginDate Created: 1967-12-18
Library locationsRodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded SoundShelf locator: *LTC-A 1453
TopicsAlbers, JosefAlbers, AnniCage, JohnCunningham, MerceDe Kooning, ElaineDe Kooning, Willem, 1904-1997Fuller, R. Buckminster (Richard Buckminster), 1895-1983Olson, Charles, 1910-1970Rauschenberg, Robert, 1925-2008Satie, Erik, 1866-1925, Piège de MéduseTudor, David, 1926-1996Black Mountain College (Black Mountain, N.C.)Merce Cunningham Dance CompanyDance -- Study and teachingHappenings (Art)
NotesContent: Martin Duberman interviews Merce Cunningham, probably in New York, New York, on December 18, 1967. This interview was created as research for Martin Duberman's book, Black Mountain: an exploration in community (New York, Dutton).Content: Title and date provided by cataloger based on audition and typed notes on original cassette.Content: Typed notes on original original cassette: "Duplicate Audio Cassette ; Interview of Merce Cunningham by Duberman ; Dec. 18, 1967 ; Tape #18; Tape 1 of 1".Venue: Recorded in, [New York, New York], 1967 December 18.Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.Citation/reference: Forms part of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection.
Physical DescriptionAudiocassetteExtent: 1 audiocassette (126 minutes) : analogSound quality is mostly good; the recording is tinny but audible.
DescriptionStreaming file 1, side a: Begins abruptly; Merce Cunningham speaks with Martin Duberman about an impromptu visit to Black Mountain College while on a tour with John Cage in 1948; being invited by Josef Albers to teach there in the summer; [brief recording break]; Cunningham speaks about Cage suggesting to Albers that Bill [Willem] de Kooning teach painting at Black Mountain; Cunningham speaks briefly about Richard Lippold making a tail for his Monkey dances (1948) costume; they list other notable teachers and artists at Black Mountain that summer, including M.C. Richards; Cunningham speaks about Cage's concerts of Erik Satie's works throughout the summer of 1948 as well as the production of Erik Satie's Piège de Méduse, especially the cast; his admiration of Buckminster Fuller as a performer in Piège; more on Albers and his relationship with Cage and Cunningham; he speaks about teaching dance classes at Black Mountain; Cunningham speaks about returning to teach at Black Mountain in the summer of 1952, including the notable artists there that summer; his health problems during that summer; he speaks about bringing his recently formed Merce Cunningham Dance Company to Black Mountain for the summer of 1953; he lists the dancers and mentions financial terms for bringing them; the works he created at Black Mountain in 1953: Septet, Dime a dance, Banjo, Untitled solo, Suite by chance, Collage , and Solo suite in space and time, and performing these works in the cafeteria; a brief anecdote on Anita Dencks getting the mumps; his experience of artistic freedom while at Black Mountain; meeting Nicola Cernovitch at Black Mountain, and Cernovitch's interest in lighting; differences in teaching at the University of Southern California versus teaching at Black Mountain; he speaks about viewpoints on dance and his teaching by the other artists and teachers at Black Mountain; they speak about the overlaps between Albers's teaching pedagogy with Cunningham's; Cunningham tells brief anecdotes about Lou Harrison and Viola Farber at Black Mountain; Cunningham speaks about the reasons he thinks Black Mountain was influential, especially his personal admiration of Fuller; more on Fuller, including his lectures and an anecdote about Elaine de Kooning helping Fuller create a dymaxion structure that collapsed; Cunningham speaks about Cage's theatrical event in 1952, later known as the first "happening", including the cast and seating arrangement of the audience; he speaks about performing independently from the music and using music with no regular pulse; he speaks about using the idea of simultaneity in performance and how Black Mountain allowed for this idea to be expressed; he speaks about ways the summer of 1953 at Black Mountain allowed him to establish a company and repertory; the artistic impact of the performance and rehearsal space at Black Mountain; ends abruptly.
Streaming file 2, side a, continued: Begins abruptly; Merce Cunningham continues to speak with Martin Duberman about the performance and rehearsal space, as well as the artistic atmosphere, while at Black Mountain College; he speaks about how his artistic ideas differed at that time from his contemporaries in modern dance; more on how the summer at Black Mountain supported his company and artistic process; he speaks about how his artistic process differed from the other artists at Black Mountain and tells a brief anecdote about an interaction with Stefan Wolpe; he describes his average day while at Black Mountain and speaks about his small group of students there that included community members; Cunningham speaks about Charles Olson taking his dance classes; ends abruptly.
Streaming file 3, side b: Begins abruptly; Merce Cunningham continues to speak with Martin Duberman about Charles Olson taking his dance classes at Black Mountain College in the summer of 1953; [ca. 1:14-2:05, separately recorded interview with Mary "Molly" Gregory]; Cunningham speaks about David Tudor playing piano music, Louis Moreau Gottschalk's Banjo, opus 15 (1855), for his Banjo (1953) at Black Mountain; he speaks about Tudor's selection of the music for Dime a dance (1953); he speaks briefly about Tudor playing Christian Wolff's music, For piano I, for Untitled solo (1953); Cunningham speaks about Tudor's long relationship with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company; he speaks about meeting Bob [Robert] Rauschenberg at Black Mountain in 1952; briefly, how the atmosphere at Black Mountain was conducive to artistic collaboration; briefly, on the poem that Olson wrote about Cunningham; they mention other writers associated with Black Mountain; Cunningham speaks more about Olson while in dance class; he speaks about the reasons he didn't return for another summer at Black Mountain and the organizational differences between 1948 to 1953; he speaks about the direction that Joself Albers provided to Black Mountain; they speak about the current uses of the Black Mountain campus; Cunningham tells an anecdote about Anni Albers and recalls her weaving; they mention others who were at Black Mountain; he tells an anecdote about Nell Rice, the Black Mountain Librarian; Cunningham speaks more about Olson's direction of Black Mountain as compared to Albers; they speak about a recent performance with technical issues and Cunningham speaks about how Tudor resolves technical problems for his company during performances; Cunningham speaks about how the community at Black Mountain supported and participated in the events that were happening there; he speaks about the unique teacher and student relationship there; [ca. 39:56-51:58, separately recorded interview with Mary "Molly" Gregory]; Mary "Molly" Gregory speaks with Duberman about Black Mountain College including her contributions to the school's buildings as carpenter, the unstable climate of the school's administration in the mid-late 1940s, her teaching pay, and the financial state of the school; ends abruptly.
Streaming file 4, side b, continued: Mary "Molly" Gregory continues to speak with Martin Duberman about Josef and Anni Albers; she speaks about the circumstances that led to the closing of Black Mountain College; the changes in faculty and student approaches to education and standards in the post war years; ends abruptly.
Type of ResourceSound recording
IdentifiersRLIN/OCLC: 914482979NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20750266Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 11b37670-b909-0133-9a59-60f81dd2b63c
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