Interview with Merce Cunningham: at the University Musical Society, 1999-02-11
NamesMerce Cunningham Dance Company (Associated name)Cunningham, Merce (Interviewee)Johnson, Ben (Host)Copeland, Roger (Interviewer)University of Michigan. University Musical Society (Host)
Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials
Dates / OriginDate Created: 1999-02-11
Library locationsRodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded SoundShelf locator: *LTC-A 1454
TopicsCage, JohnCunningham, MerceRauschenberg, Robert, 1925-2008Merce Cunningham Dance CompanyAntic meet (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Biped (Choreographic work : Cunningham)CRWDSPCR (Choreographic work : Cunningham)LifeForms (Computer programs)Place (Choreographic work : Cunningham)RainForest (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Scenario (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Summerspace (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Variations V (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Walkaround time (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Winterbranch (Choreographic work : Cunningham)ChoreographyMusic and dance
GenresInterviews (Sound recordings)Interviews
NotesContent: Roger Copeland interviews Merce Cunningham for a live audience at the University Musical Society, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, on February 11, 1999; coincides with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company residency at the University of Michigan.Content: Title, date, and location provided by cataloger based on typed note on original cassette and audition.Content: Typed note on original cassette: "University Musical Society ; Merce Cunningham - Master Interview ; February 11, 1999 - Duplicate 1hr 20min".Venue: Recorded live at the University Musical Society, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1999 February 11.Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.Citation/reference: Forms part of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection.
Physical DescriptionAudiocassetteExtent: 1 audio cassette (80 minutes) : analogSound quality is fair to mostly good; the recording volume varies and is low at times but the speakers are mostly audible. The audience questions are taken at a distance from the microphone.
DescriptionStreaming file 1, side 1: Ben Johnson introduces the Master of Arts interview with Merce Cunningham and interviewer Roger Copeland, ca. 0:00-1:45; Roger Copeland introduces Merce Cunningham and reads Cunningham's overview of the four main discoveries in his work, ca. 1:46-5:21; Merce Cunningham speaks about the influence of John Cage in his separation of music and dance, and how this approach liberated his creative process; he speaks about an interest in "enlarging" the possibilities of human movement in relation to the creative strategies and technologies that he uses in his choreography; Cunningham speaks about how working with dance on camera "opened his eye"; he speaks about his interest in dance and technology; Copeland introduces the video clips from Hand-drawn spaces, and, Variations V (1965); [video clips, ca. 11:26-16:45]; Cunningham briefly comments on Variations V; Cunningham speaks about displaying Hand-drawn spaces on three screens during an installation of it and using aspects of this for the decor in the forthcoming premiere of Biped (1999); Copeland introduces a slide that illustrates the motion capture process used in Hand-drawn spaces and Cunningham further describes the motion capture process; they speak about the potential use of motion capture for movement notation; Cunningham speaks about reasons for the movement phrases he selected for the motion capture process including considerations of the floor and space during the capture; [slideshow starts, ca. 25:43]; they speak about the "leaper" section in Trackers (1991) and how Cunningham's work with the LifeForms software impacted the movement; Cunningham speaks about how the technology of the pointe shoe impacted the movement possibilities of the dancer; he speaks about how the close-up shot changed film; he speaks about how working with dance on camera changed tempo, repetition, and precision in his choreography; Cunningham speaks about the increased use of arm movement in his choreography and attributes it to his work with dance on camera; he speaks about his dancers capabilities to incorporate the increased complexity of his movement; Copeland introduces a video clip of CRWDSPCR (1993); [video clip, ca. 34:25-36:15]; Cunningham comments on CRWDSPCR during the clips; Copeland speaks about the "triumvirate" of 20th century American choreographers as George Balanchine, Martha Graham, and Cunningham, and speaks about Cunningham's "move away from Graham"; Cunningham speaks about how he was drawn towards Cage's artistic ideas; Copeland speaks about the premiere of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at the American Dance Festival in 1958 and the shock of Cunningham's use of stopwatches; Cunningham speaks about the "precision and freedom" of using a stopwatch in working with his dancers; they speak about Cunningham's use of chance operations and indeterminacy in his choreography; Cunningham speaks about how using chance operations opened up his creative process; Copeland introduces a clip of Antic meet (1958); [video clip, ca. 44:41-45:57]; Cunningham describes Robert Rauschenberg's costumes for Antic meet and tells an anecdote about Cage trying on one of the costumes; ends abruptly.Streaming file 2, side 2: Begins abruptly, Merce Cunningham continues to speak with Roger Copeland; Copeland introduces a clip of Place (1966); [video clip starts, ca. 0:43]; Cunningham speaks about the challenges of getting into the plastic sculpture at the end of Place and his inspiration for Place; he speaks about his preference to allow for open and personal interpretations of his works, and describes elements of his Winterbranch (1964) as an example of how he achieves this; Cunningham speaks about his interest in providing a "sound experience" for audiences and working with experimental sound and composers; he speaks about giving his audience a new experience rather than a known experience; Copeland introduces a clip of Walkaround time (1968); [video clip starts, ca. 10:48]; Cunningham speaks about Jasper Johns's set for Walkaround time; he speaks about his use of pedestrian movement for the student performers in Collage (1952) and his interest in complexity that made him focus more on technical movement; Copeland introduces a clip of RainForest (1968); [video clip, ca. 14:41-16:03]; Cunningham speaks about the challenge of traveling on tour with the RainForest decor; they speak about Rei Kawakubo's costumes for Scenario (1997); Cunningham speaks more on Kawakubo's costumes; [audience question and answer period, ca. 20:10-33:45]; Cunningham speaks about the Robert Rauschenberg's costumes and backdrop, and Morton Feldman's music for Summerspace (1958), to illustrate how he works independently with his collaborators; they speak more about how he works with collaborators; Cunningham speaks about his admiration of Rauschenberg as one of the "great theater designers"; Cunningham speaks about his criteria for choosing his dancers including physical strength, mental resiliency, and compatibility with himself and the Company; he speaks about how his dancers don't hear the music until the day of the performance and tells an anecdote about Ground level overlay (1995); Cunningham speaks about his technique.
Type of ResourceSound recording
IdentifiersRLIN/OCLC: 914901824NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20751127Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 14965020-b90d-0133-8292-60f81dd2b63c
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