Interview with Merce Cunningham, 1978-07-07/1978-12-13
NamesMerce Cunningham Dance Company (Associated name)Cunningham, Merce (Interviewee)Vaughan, David, 1924- (Interviewer)
Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials
Dates / OriginDate Created: 1978-07-07Date Created: 1978-12-13
Library locationsRodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded SoundShelf locator: *LTC-A 1446
TopicsBrown, Carolyn, 1927-Burns, Louise AnnCunningham, MerceRauschenberg, Robert, 1925-2008 -- MinutiaeRauschenberg, Robert, 1925-2008Satie, Erik, 1866-1925 -- NocturnesTudor, David, 1926-1996Wolff, Christian, 1934- -- For pianono. 1no. 1
no. 1Merce Cunningham Dance CompanyAntic meet (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Galaxy (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Labyrinthian dances (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Lavish escapade (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Minutiae (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Nocturnes (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Springweather and people (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Summerspace (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Suite for five (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Untitled solo (Choreographic work : Cunningham)ChoreographyDance -- Study and teaching
NotesContent: David Vaughan interviews Merce Cunningham, probably in New York, New York, on July 7 and December 13, 1978. This interview was created as research for David Vaughan's book, Merce Cunningham: Fifty years (New York, Aperture).Content: Title and dates provided by cataloger based on audition and handwritten and typed notes on original container.Content: Handwritten and typed notes on original original container: "Merce Cunningham with D. Vaughan ; 1. Interview with Merce Cunningham, 7 July 1978 ; 2. Interview with Merce Cunningham ; 13 December 1978".Venue: Recorded in, [New York, New York], 1978 July 7 and December 13.Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.Citation/reference: Forms part of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection.
Physical DescriptionAudiocassetteExtent: 1 audiocassette (92 minutes) : analogSound quality is mostly good; at times the interviewee is muffled or speaks away from the recording microphone but is mostly audible.
DescriptionStreaming file 1, Jul. 7, 1978: Merce Cunningham speaks with David Vaughan about the costumes for his Untitled solo (1953) performed at Black Mountain College; Cunningham speaks about Christian Wolff's music for Untitled solo, For piano no. 1 (1952), and David Tudor's playing of it in rehearsals; they speak about Fragments (1953), including the difficulties created by the chance procedures he used to choreograph it; they speak about how there were very few performances by his [Merce Cunningham Dance] Company during 1954; Cunningham speaks briefly about teaching classes and rehearsing Minutiae (1954) during that year; he speaks about the Company's auditioning for an out of town dance festival with a studio performance of Springweather and people (1955) that was poorly received and the limited opportunies for the Company that year; they speak about the locations and dates of Springweather performances; [brief interruption]; they speak briefly about the single performance of Springweather at Bard College in May, 1955; Cunningham speaks about a tour to the West coast during the fall of 1955 and his solution to the lack of financial resources for the Company during those years; they speak briefly about the reasons that Suite by chance (1953) and Fragments (1953) were difficult to keep in repertory; Cunningham speaks briefly about the re-design of the costumes for Springweather and lists the costume designers involved; he tells an anecdote about Earle Brown's music for Springweather, Indices (1954), and a piano collapse during a tour; they speak about the collage sculptures that Robert Rauschenberg made for Minutiae, including taking them on tour; they list the Company dancers at that time: Remy [Charlip], Carolyn [Brown], Viola [Farber], Marianne [Preger-Simon], Anita [Dencks], with "Nick" [Nicola Cernovich] as lighting designer; Cunningham speaks about the multiple aspects and challenges of running his own dance company including gaining experience over time; Cunningham speaks about the daily routine of the Martha Graham Dance Company and the inspiration of holding a daily class for his own company; he speaks about his Company dancers holding other jobs to make ends meet and how this impacted his class and rehearsal schedule; the quirky circumstances while touring and how Cunningham gave class for the consistency of Company's dancers; he speaks about using class excercises to develop movements used in his choreography, including for his Septet (1953) and Nocturnes (1956); they speak briefly about maneuvering around the set for Minutiae; Cunningham speaks about the solos in his Galaxy (1956); he speaks briefly about his solo, Lavish escapade (1956); they discuss when Cunningham made Suite for five (1956); Cunningham speaks about a chance procedure that he used in choreographing works at this time, especially in Suite for five; he speaks about wanting to reconstruct Suite for five and referencing his choreographic notes to do so; Cunningham recalls Brown dancing in Suite for five; he speaks about how performing Suite for five on larger stages made the piece more fullfilled; briefly, how daily classes kept the Company "going"; they speak about the Company's performances at Jacob's Pillow in 1955, including an anecdote on his Nocturnes (1955); ends abruptly.
Streaming file 2, Dec. 13, 1978: Merce Cunningham speaks with David Vaughan about a solo from the early 1950's that was never performed, Boy who wanted to be a bird; he recalls a very informal performance at Martha's Vineyard that included his Monkey dances (1948); Cunningham speaks about using chance methods to choreograph Nocturnes (1955), including the relationship of the choreography to Erik Satie's music of the same title; he speaks about the chance procedure that dictated the opening of Nocturnes; more on Nocturnes including his listening to records of the composition and John Cage playing it for rehearsals; Cunningham tells an anecdote about the first performance of Nocturnes and Robert Rauschenberg's set; Cunningham speaks about how the challenging movement in Lavish escapade (1956) created a dramatic quality; briefly, the loss of his choreographic notes in a flood; Cunningham speaks about how various performance spaces impacted Labyrinthian dances (1957); more about Labyrinthian dances including the music by Josef Matthias Hauer, movement inspiration, set design by Rauschenberg and costumes; they speak briefly about Picnic polka (1957) and how, at David Tudor's suggestion, it was always performed with Banjo (1953); Cunningham speaks about the props and costuming by Rauschenberg for Antic meet (1958); briefly, the chance procedure he used in the choreography of Antic meet; anecdotes about Antic meet including Rauschenberg finding a door frame for a prop while on tour and an article written about it; he tells an anecdote about observing Martha Graham teaching a class that illustrates the quality he was trying to elicit in Antic meet; he speaks briefly about the burden of the chair he wears on his back, how it impacted his movement and a partnering move that he wanted to do using the chair; he speaks to the element of parody in Antic meet, especially his initial inspiration from a sweater with four sleeves and the misperception that it's parodying Graham; Cunningham speaks about the awkwardness of the parachute dresses that the women wear in Antic meet; they speak about the final section being a self parody and Cunningham describes his inspiration as stemming from "old film where everything goes so fast"; Cunningham comments briefly on the summer residencies at American Dance Festival; he speaks about the first performance of Summerspace (1958), a matinee at ADF, and its set by Rauschenberg; his inspiration for the title of Summerspace originating in the movement; he speaks about Brown's movement quality in Summerspace; they speak about Louise Burns dancing Brown's part in a 1977 revival of Summerspace; more about the first performance of Summerspace and the lack of his colleagues' interest in it.
Type of ResourceSound recording
IdentifiersRLIN/OCLC: 913960269NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20732894Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 91b68dc0-b8f9-0133-5f93-60f81dd2b63c
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