Interview with Merce Cunningham: conducted by Meredith Monk, 1997-07-04

More Details Cite This Item

View this item elsewhere:

Interview with Merce Cunningham: conducted by Meredith Monk, 1997-07-04
Merce Cunningham Dance Company (Associated name)
Cunningham, Merce (Interviewee)
Monk, Meredith (Interviewer)

Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1997-07-04
Library locations
Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound
Shelf locator: *LTD-A 897
Cage, John
Cunningham, Merce
Kosugi, Takehisa, 1938-
Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Dream (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Event (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Ocean (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Root of an unfocus (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Septet (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Sixteen dances for soloist and company of three (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Winterbranch (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Dance -- Production and direction
Content: Title and date provided by cataloger based on handwritten note on original DAT and audition.
Content: Handwritten note on original DAT container: "Interview - Meredith Monk of Merce Cunningham ; 7-4-97".
Numbering: Donor's inventory number: D381.
Venue: Recording location is unidentified; however, the background sounds indicate that it was likely recorded in a dance studio.
Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.
Physical Description
Extent: 1 audiocassette (DAT) (54 min.) : digital, .3209 ips, 44.1 kHz, 16 bit, two track, stereo
Sound quality is good; there are occasional distant background sounds of drums and voices.
Begins abruptly; Merce Cunningham speaks with Meredith Monk about selecting artistic collaborators; creative inspiration for Winterbranch (1964); Monk and Cunningham speak about selecting dancers, including the qualities they look for such as a balance between precision and freedom in movement; Cunningham speaks about planning his BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Art] season [October 14-19, 1997], including the construction of the Events to be performed; certain challenges of teaching past works to new generations of his [Merce Cunningham Dance] Company; how watching movies and working with dance for camera has influenced his choreography; drawing; choreographing with the computer program, Life Forms; Cunningham recollects an instance of stage fright as a young child; short anecdotes on his tap dance training with Mrs. [Maude] Barrett, and doing exhibition ballroom dancing with her daughter, Marjorie; briefly, speaking to his father about his wish to be a performer; attending Cornish School of the Arts and the influential people he met there including John Cage; Monk describes a prepared piano work by John Cage that accompanies Cunningham's Dream (1948); Cunningham tells an anecdote about Septet (1953), in which he recalls the way David Tudor and John Cage played the accompaniment; briefly speaks about working with Takehisa Kosugi as the current Company's Musical Director; Monk describes her experience as a musician for Cunningham's Events; in response to Monk's question on his "typical day," Cunningham tells a few short anecdotes on getting up, then describes briefly his morning routine and his daily routine at the dance studio; Cunningham speaks about passing his work on to the next generations and briefly, the reconstruction of his works, including that of Sounddance (1975); Monk describes her experience of watching Sounddance; Cunningham's reasoning for not using improvisation in his works; his choreographic use of re-ordering set movement phrases from performance to performance; briefly, his solo, Root of an unfocus (1944), and its exploration of fear and risk; they briefly discuss Cage's exploration of the "Nine Indian emotions," and Cunningham's related work, Sixteen dances for soloist and company of three (1951); the choreographic process for Ocean (1994); Cunningham speaks about his interest in how present day children are taught with the use of layered images, while his generation was taught with words; Monk and Cunningham briefly discuss the speed of visual stimulation in society, including impacts on both the human nervous system and the perspectives of audiences; closing remarks; Cunningham speaks about his house plants and they briefly discuss the relationship between creativity and gardening.
Type of Resource
Sound recording
RLIN/OCLC: 897373807
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20490343
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 179cde40-b7f1-0133-7765-3c07547a230f
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

  • 1997: Created
  • 2023: Found by you!
  • 2024

MLA Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Merce Cunningham" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1997.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Merce Cunningham" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 3, 2023.

APA Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. (1997). Interview with Merce Cunningham Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (sound recording) Interview with Merce Cunningham, (1997)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=June 3, 2023 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Merce Cunningham