Six American Dance Pioneers: A Look Back, A Leap Forward: Merce Cunningham

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Six American Dance Pioneers: A Look Back, A Leap Forward: Merce Cunningham
Additional title: Merce Cunningham
Additional title: Dance at the Painted Bride
Additional title: Story (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Additional title: CRWDSPCR (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Additional title: Hand-drawn spaces (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Additional title: Biped (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Edsall, Mary E (Moderator)
Cunningham, Merce (Speaker)
Cunningham, Merce (Choreographer)
Vaughan, David, 1924-2017 (Speaker)
Painted Bride Art Center (Presenter)
Merce Cunningham Dance Company (Dancer)

Susan Hess Modern Dance Lecture Series Video Archive

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 2001-05-20
Table of Contents
Reel 1. Introduction (2 min.) -- Merce Cunningham with dance films (beginning of talk) (57 min.) / speakers, Merce Cunningham and David Vaughn. |||| Reel 2. Merce Cunningham (conclusion of talk) (11 min.) -- Question Answer Session (35 min.) / moderator, Mary Edsall ; participant, Merce Cunningham.
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDF 1479
Cunningham, Merce
Atlas, Charles
Cage, John
Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Story (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
CRWDSPCR (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Hand-drawn spaces (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Biped (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Summerspace (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Modern dance -- United States
Dance -- History -- 20th century
Computers -- Dance applications
Filmed dance
Filmed performances
Content: Title taken from opening speech, original cassette label, and other catalog records.
Content: Reel 1 (59 min.) ; Reel 2 (46 min.).
Content: Dance film excerpts interspersed during discussion include: Story, Hand Drawn Spaces, CRWDSPCR and Biped.
Creation/production credits: Presented by Susan Hess Modern Dance.
Venue: Videotaped during talk at Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, Pa. 2001 May 20.
Acquisition: Gift; Susan Hess; 2010.
Physical Description
Extent: 2 videocassettes (MiniDV) (105 min.) : sound, color ; 1/4 in.
Reel 1. David Vaughn (archivist, Merce Cunningham Dance Company) begins with talk of the four events that led to discoveries by Merce Cunningham which include Cunningham's work with John Cage, chance operations, video film work and Lifeforms dance computer program; Cunningham discusses the creation of his choreographic work, Story, after a film is shown; performing in India; improvisation; camera work of Charles Atlas and the differences between performances for camera and on stage including the relationship to perception, repetition, and speed; Cunningham's introduction and working with the computer software program, Lifeforms, which was created by Simon Fraser University; illustrating the use of Lifeforms by showing film of CRWDSPCR; the creation of movement/images for Biped using Lifeforms; showing a film of Hand Drawn Spaces, which has some of the work done for Biped; mentioning the Biped costumes by Susanne Gallo, lighting by Aaron Cop, and music by Gavin Byers. Reel 2. Showing the Biped video filmed in Canne, France by Charles Atlas; Question and Answer Session which includes questions about the reconstruction of Summer Space; Cunningham's basis for choreographic decisions and how he is precise but still has freedom regarding space, time and movement; the difference between the company's former and current dancers; and concludes with a childhood story of leaping over bushes with his brother Jack.
Type of Resource
Moving image
RLIN/OCLC: 895165071
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20475695
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): b6694e60-6457-0132-cdc7-3c075448cc4b
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

  • 2001: Created
  • 2022: Found by you!
  • 2023

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Six American Dance Pioneers" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2001.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Six American Dance Pioneers" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed August 15, 2022.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2001). Six American Dance Pioneers Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Six American Dance Pioneers, (2001)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=August 15, 2022 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Six American Dance Pioneers