Interview with Marianne Preger-Simon, 1983-03-27

More Details Cite This Item

View this item elsewhere:

Interview with Marianne Preger-Simon, 1983-03-27
Merce Cunningham Dance Company (Associated name)
Preger-Simon, Marianne (Interviewee)
Vaughan, David, 1924- (Interviewer)

Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1983-03-27
Place: New York, NY.
Library locations
Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound
Shelf locator: *LTC-A 1196
Preger-Simon, Marianne
Cunningham, Merce
Melsher, Joanne
Prevots, Naima, 1935-
Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Galaxy (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Noces (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Nocturnes (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Rag-time parade (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Content: David Vaughan interviews Marianne Preger-Simon in New York, New York, on March 27, 1983. This interview was created as research for David Vaughan's book, Merce Cunningham: Fifty years (New York, Aperture).
Content: Title, date and location provided by cataloger based on audition and handwritten note on original container.
Content: Handwritten note on original container: "1. Interview with Nina Fonaroff, London 30 July 1980 ; 2. Interview with Marianne [Preger-]Simon, New York 27 March 1983".
Numbering: Donor's inventory number: C373.
Content: Contains side 2 of the archival original cassette.
Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.
Citation/reference: Forms part of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection.
Physical Description
Extent: 1 audiocassette (46 minutes) : analog
Sound quality is good.
Begins abruptly, Marianne Preger-Simon speaks with David Vaughan about meeting Merce Cunningham and seeing him perform in Paris during the spring of 1949; her role in introducing Cunningham with Jacqueline Levant and his teaching master classes at Levant's dance studio; Preger-Simon speaks about returning to New York in the fall of 1949 and being Cunningham's first student, and only student, for several weeks; Preger-Simon speaks about Rag-time parade (1950), composed for the beginner students, and their going with Cunningham to thrift shops for the costumes; how Cunningham tailored parts for each performer; briefly, being in the chorus of Noces (1952); the eventual combining of Cunningham's beginners class, students that he solely trained, with his more advanced class consisting of students who had trained with other teachers and choreographers; an anecdote on Paul Taylor's arrival to the class; they name the original cast of Noces performed at Brandeis University; Vaughan tells an anecdote about Naima Prevots; Preger-Simon briefly speaks about going with Cunningham and his [Merce Cunningham Dance] Company to her first summer at Black Mountain College in 1953; Preger-Simon recalls Cunningham's technique classes including an anecdote on how Cunningham classes started standing rather than on the floor; Vaughan tells an anecdote about a Cunningham exercise that changed over time; early dances that used chance methods and Preger-Simon's awareness of Cunningham's use of chance; Cunningham's preparedness for rehearsals, including his knowledge of his dancers and their strengths; Preger-Simon recalls Cunningham speaking of Viola Farber's dance qualities and shaping material for her; Joanne Melsher and her unusual qualities as a dancer; they discuss how Cunningham would demonstrate every movement in those years and Vaughan tells an anecdote about Cunningham verbally relaying Farber's part to her in Walkaround time (1968); Preger-Simon speaks about the ways that Cunningham was a remarkable teacher, especially in his sensitivity to his students; Preger-Simon tells an anecdote on Cunningham encouraging her to try in difficult moments; Cunningham's silence about the meaning of his works and how the dancers would discuss their own ideas about meanings with one another; how the dancers enjoyed wearing skirts in Banjo (1953) after wearing leotards and tights as costumes; briefly, costume designers including Remy Charlip; Galaxy (1956) and how each dancer corresponded with an element; Vaughan's first impressions of Sixteen dances for soloist and company of three (1951); they briefly discuss Two step (1949) and Monkey dances (1948); Nocturnes (1956) and the relationship of the dancers' parts to the music; Preger-Simon speaks about the Company's first tours using a Volkswagon microbus, including an anecdote on eating mushrooms that John Cage had foraged by the side of the road; the family-like relationship of the Company; the California tour of 1956, including joining AGMA [American Guild of Musical Artists] and some of the places they lodged; visiting Cunningham's mother in Washington state and Cunningham demonstrating some of the tap dancing he had learned as a child; ends abruptly.
Type of Resource
Sound recording
RLIN/OCLC: 913795115
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20730808
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): edfd1c50-b8cc-0133-3fe2-60f81dd2b63c
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

  • 1983: Created
  • 2023: Found by you!
  • 2024

MLA Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Marianne Preger-Simon, 1983-03-27" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1983.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Marianne Preger-Simon, 1983-03-27" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2023.

APA Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. (1983). Interview with Marianne Preger-Simon, 1983-03-27 Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (sound recording) Interview with Marianne Preger-Simon, 1983-03-27, (1983)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=February 4, 2023 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Marianne Preger-Simon, 1983-03-27