Interview with Merce Cunningham, 1978-06-13/16
NamesMerce Cunningham Dance Company (Associated name)Cunningham, Merce (Interviewee)Vaughan, David, 1924- (Interviewer)
Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials
Dates / OriginDate Created: 1978-06-13Date Created: 1978-06-16
Library locationsRodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded SoundShelf locator: *LTC-A 1446
TopicsCunningham, MerceCage, JohnDodds, Baby, 1898-1959Le Clercq, TanaquilMansfield, PortiaNichols, BettyPerry, Charlotte, 1889-1983Preger-Simon, MarianneSatie, Erik, 1866-1925 -- Piège de MéduseTanner, Virginia, 1915-1979Ballet Society (New York, N.Y.)Black Mountain College (Black Mountain, N.C.)Martha Graham Dance CompanyPerry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and CampSchool of American BalletFast blues (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Four walls (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Idyllic song (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Mysterious adventure (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Princess Zondilda and her entourage (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Seasons (Choreographic work : Cunningham)ChoreographyDance -- Study and teaching
NotesContent: David Vaughan interviews Merce Cunningham, probably in New York, New York, on June 13 and 16, 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: "1. David Vaughan: Interview with Merce Cunningham, 13 June 1978 ; 2. Continued ; 16 June 1978".Venue: Recorded in, [New York, New York], 1978 June 13 and 16.Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.Citation/reference: Forms part of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection.
Physical DescriptionAudiocassetteExtent: 1 audiocassette (94 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, Jun. 13, 1978: Merce Cunningham speaks with David Vaughan about the dancers in a film of his Four walls (1944), performed at the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp; Cunningham speaks about the set design for Four walls by Arch Lauterer and the composition by John Cage played by Drusa Wilker; they continue to speak about the performers in Four walls; Cunningham tells an anecdote about Lauterer advising him to edit the piece; briefly, teaching dance classes at Perry-Mansfield; Cunningham's admiration of Portia Mansfield and Charlotte Perry, and their running of the school; more about Four walls and his re-use of material from it for later works, including in his Soliloquy; they speak about his sharing a program in Salt Lake City with Virginia Tanner, a dancer in Four walls; Cunningham speaks about the choreographic process for his solo Idyllic song (1944), including music by Erik Satie and Cage's admiration of this piece; he speaks about his Mysterious adventure (1945), especially the costumes and a set piece by David Hare; briefly, on performances of Mysterious adventure overlapping with the last season he was in the Martha Graham Dance Company; some of the visual artists with whom Cunningham was acquainted at that time including [Piet] Mondrian and Morris Graves; [brief telephone interruption]; they speak about Cunningham's Experiences (1945), a solo on the program he co-presented with Cage; an anecdote on touring with Cage and performing with a local flute player; they speak about his resigning from the Graham Company; the 1946 concert in which he premiered Encounter, and Invocation to Vahakin; he speaks about another work on the 1946 program, Fast Blues (1946), which was accompanied by Baby Dodds; he speaks about Princess Zondilda and her entourage (1946) which was a trio with Virginia Bosler and [Katherine] Katie Litz; the dancer who later performed in Katie's role, Olga Lunick; Cunningham speaks about Lincoln Kirstein asking him to create a commissioned work for Ballet Society, his Seasons (1947); he speaks about a last minute venue change for the premiere performance of Seasons to be at the Ziegfeld Theatre; ends abruptly.
Streaming file 2, Jun. 16, 1978: Merce Cunningham speaks with David Vaughan about the rehearsal schedule for his Seasons (1947) as well as its sections; briefly, the original cast of ballet dancers that performed in Seasons; they speak about the original title for Seasons; Cunningham speaks about his inspiration for Seasons, more on the lighting and set design by Isamu Noguchi, and the choreographic structure for the sections; Vaughan reads the original program notes for Seasons and they speak about the Preludes for each section; Cunningham tells an anecdote about working with Tanaquil LeClerq in Seasons; he speaks about being invited by Muriel Stuart to teach at the School of American Ballet, and they speak about his classes there; very briefly, on teaching the following summer at the University of California, Los Angeles; briefly, on subsequent performances of Seasons; Cunningham speaks about his Dream (1948), including the music by John Cage; Cunningham speaks about an impromptu visit to Black Mountain College while on a driving tour with Cage in 1948 and their being invited by Josef Albers to teach there; he speaks about other notable teachers and artists at Black Mountain; he speaks about the 1948 Black Mountain production of Piège de Méduse by Erik Satie at Cage's suggestion; he tells an anecdote about casting Buckminster Fuller in Piège; more on the cast, sets and costumes of that production; Cunningham speaks about the dances he re-used from Piège that were performed independently in 1948: Monkey dances (1948), Orestes (1948), and Diversion (1948); more on references to Krishna and the Gopis in Diversion; Cunningham speaks about the 1949 tour with Cage through the United States including the performances, the terrible driving conditions, and some of the audience responses; Cunningham speaks about traveling to Italy in the spring of 1949; traveling to Paris including a mention of rehearsing with Tanaquil LeClerq and Betty Nichols in Paris, 1949; more on his stay in Paris, including finding a dance studio to teach classes and rehearse in through Marianne Preger[-Simon]; he seaks about observing [Olga] Preobrajenska teach as well as other dance teachers and performances that he saw in Paris; briefly, on a pas de duex he choreographed for Nichols and Milorad Miskovitch to perform at a garden fête in honor of Lady Diana Cooper; Alice Toklas' response to a performance of Cunningham's works at Jean Hélion's studio; they speak about where Cunningham choreographed Two step (1949); reasons for Cunningham's return to the United States, including financial need and the scarcity of inspiring modern dance in Paris; ends abruptly.
Type of ResourceSound recording
IdentifiersRLIN/OCLC: 913959958NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20732891Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): d87d1180-b8f8-0133-6431-60f81dd2b63c
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