Interview with Carolyn Brown at David Vaughan's New York University class, 1979-05-10
NamesMerce Cunningham Dance Company (Associated name)Brown, Carolyn, 1927- (Interviewee)Vaughan, David, 1924- (Interviewer)New York University (Host)
Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials
Dates / OriginDate Created: 1979-05-10
Library locationsRodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded SoundShelf locator: *LTC-A 1469
TopicsBrown, Carolyn, 1927-Brown, Earle, 1926-2002Cage, JohnCunningham, MerceFarber, ViolaPaxton, SteveRauschenberg, Robert, 1925-2008Merce Cunningham Dance CompanyCircles (Choreographic work : Brown, C)Crises (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Field dances (Choreographic work : Cunningham)House party (Choreographic work : Brown)Story (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Suite by chance (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Torse (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Tread (Choreographic work : Cunningham)TV rerun (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Variations V (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Walkaround time (Choreographic work : Cunningham)ChoreographyMusic and dance
NotesContent: Title and date provided by cataloger based on audition and handwritten note on original cassette and container.Content: Handwritten note on original original cassette and container: "Carolyn Brown with David Vaughan ; NYU ; 10 May 1979".Content: David Vaughan interviews Carolyn Brown for his class, Merce Cunningham and the Modern Dance, at New York University on May 10, 1979. This interview was likely used in research for David Vaughan's book, Merce Cunningham: Fifty years (New York, Aperture).Venue: Originally recorded at New York University in, New York, New York, 1979 May 10.Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.Citation/reference: Forms part of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection.
Physical DescriptionAudiocassetteExtent: 1 audiocassette (89 minutes) : analogSound quality is mostly good; there is occasional laughter from the unidentified students sitting in on the recording session. In streaming file 2, the students ask questions some distance from the microphone.
DescriptionStreaming file 1, side 1: Carolyn Brown speaks with David Vaughan about living in Denver after college with her husband Earle Brown; she speaks about meeting Merce Cunningham through taking his Master dance classes in Denver; moving to New York, taking classes with Cunningham and at the Juilliard [School], and being encouraged by Earle to dance; her first performance with Cunningham in his Suite by chance (1953) at the University of Illinois and traveling there by car with Earle, Cage, and M.C. Richards; she speaks about going to Black Mountain College in the summer of 1953 and the forming of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company; she lists and speaks about the works they performed at Black Mountain in 1953 including Banjo and Dime a dance; she speaks about her awareness of the artistic ideas that the composers were exploring, especially those of her husband Earle; she speaks about the choreography of Suite by chance including the challenges of dancing it; the structural charts Cunningham used for Suite by Chance that were similar to Cage's charts to illustrate the artistic "dovetail" between Cunningham and Cage; she speaks about Cage's response to Torse (1976) and Vaughan describes the chance methods that Cunningham used to create it; they speak briefly about writing their respective books; Brown speaks about the origins of Cunningham's Crises (1960) including herself and Viola Farber asking Cunningham to make them "witches" in his next dance; challenges she faced in learning the steps for Crises and the later incorporation of the elastic bands in the piece; they speculate about the influences of Cunningham's dance training with Maude Barrett on his early choreography; Brown speaks about learning her solo in Tread (1970) and the wild quality she thinks Cunningham was trying to elicit in her; Vaughan speaks about the audience's response to Crises at its premiere; they speak about Farber's duet with Cunningham in Crises as well as the role of the women dancers in other Cunningham works; Brown speaks about Cunningham's experimental use of indeterminacy for the dancers in Story (1963), and, Field dances (1963), as a departure from following Cage's chance procedures; she speaks about Cage's response to Story and Field dances, especially his discomfort with the loose form of Story; [brief recording break]; she speaks about the challenges of the 1964 Company world tour; she tells an anecdote about Steve Paxton in a rehearsal of Story in Cologne; she speaks about the instruction and rehearsals for the section called "levels" in Story; she speaks about the freedom of movement in her part in Field dances and how this challenged her; they speak more on Story, including Robert Rauschenberg's changing set design; Brown tells a few anecdotes on the set design for some of the performances of Story during the world tour; she speaks about how Farber and herself were given more interesting freedoms than the other dancers in Story; she speaks about Field dances and reasons that Cunningham eventually doubled the cast; she tells a brief anecdote about Albert Reid "choosing" not to go on stage for one performance of Field dances; they tell anecdotes about performances of TV rerun (1972) in which Brown "chose" not to perform; Brown speaks about the challenges of filming, dancing and performing in Variations V (1965); ends abruptly.
Streaming file 2, side 2: Begins abruptly; Carolyn Brown continues to speak with David Vaughan about the conditions at Philharmonic Hall during the premiere performances of Variations V (1965); she speaks briefly about Robert Rauschenberg as the Company's artistic advisor; she tells an anecdote about the costumes for Variations V; Brown speaks about how the only corrections Cunningham gave his dancers were in regards to time and space; she speaks about how he rehearsed with her on her solo in Variations V; she speaks about the unique quality that Viola Farber had as a dancer in Cunningham's works; Brown speaks about how Cunningham trained his dancers in the 1950s through present day; she tells an anecdote about Rudolf Nureyev falling asleep during a London performance of Winterbranch (1964); they speak briefly about Walkaround time (1968) including Brown's memory that they only had 3 days to rehearse with the set; Brown speaks about rehearsing with a stopwatch rather than with the music; she speaks about how a recent reconstruction of Rune (1959) is missing the timing and rhythmic details of the original; changes in the Company over the years, especially in the exchange of artistic ideas between Cunningham and Cage, and the dancers; Brown speaks about her training in Denishawn and ballet, and admiration of Antony Tudor and Frederick Ashton, as impacting her own choreography to differ from that of Cunningham; she speaks about the public reaction to her work House party (1974); she speaks about the methods she uses to choreograph, as well as her use of music, and gives an example with her work Circles (1975); her reasons for preferring to work with ballet trained dancers and challenges in being a freelance choreographer; her response to the early reviews of Cunningham's works that said the dancers looked dehumanized and she tells an anecdote about a review by Alfred Frankenstein from the 1955 tour that praised the Cunningham Company dancers; she speaks about her approach to learning Cunningham's works including Suite for five (1956) and Crises; she tells an anecdote about Marilyn Wood asking Cunningham a question about his intention for a dance in rehearsal; they discuss how much a choreographer discloses artistic intention with a dancer; Brown speaks about how Cunningham made movement for the dancers to try out in class; she speaks about how the dancers work on cleaning themselves and Cunningham's economical use of their time in his rehearsals; she speaks about some of the challenges Cunningham faced while choreographing Second hand (1970); she tells an anecdote about Twyla Tharp's Chapters and verses (1979) and Cunningham's Variations V, to illustrate how Cunningham's choreography has underlying references; ends abruptly.
Type of ResourceSound recording
IdentifiersRLIN/OCLC: 914485402NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20750276Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): b2983090-b909-0133-c3a8-60f81dd2b63c
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