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Lecture, Voice of America recording

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Lecture, Voice of America recording
Additional title: Voice of America forum lectures
Merce Cunningham Dance Company (Associated name)
Cunningham, Merce (Speaker)

Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1971-02-11
Library locations
Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound
Shelf locator: *LT-7-A 2345
Cunningham, Merce
Cage, John
Tudor, David, 1926-1996
Event (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Variations V (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Dance -- Philosophy
Statement of responsibility: by Merce Cunningham.
Content: Title provided by cataloger based on audition and handwritten notes on original container.
Content: Label affixed to original container: "Voice of America, United States Information Agency ; U.S. Information service, American Embassy [address]". Handwritten note on original container: "Merce Cunningham Lecture, COPY".
Numbering: Donor's inventory number: R015.
Venue: Recording location and context of this lecture are unidentified.
Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.
Citation/reference: Forms part of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection.
Physical Description
Extent: 1 audiotape reel (66 minutes) : analog, 3 3/4 ips, full track, mono ; 7 in.
Sound quality is fair, the speaker is mostly audible but at times low in volume. The recording is marred by extraneous noise including "tape hiss" and occasional short gaps that cut into the speaker's talk. The audience is occasionally heard laughing as a response to the speaker in the recording.
Merce Cunningham speaks to an audience related to the Voice of America broadcast institution about the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's four week tour [in January of 1971] to Chicago's Civic [Opera House], Mills College, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Irvine, and University of California, Los Angeles; brief descriptions of the theaters, performances and classes they taught while on tour; briefly lists performance venues in New York; his perspective on the development of performance opportunities for modern dance companies in the United States, especially through touring university and college settings on the "gymnasium circuit"; briefly describes his Company's tours using a Volkswagen bus to travel with both dancers and props; changes to many university dance departments' curriculums and students' training as a result of the increasing modern dance companies' tours; announces that the film of Variations V (1965) will be presented tomorrow; speaks about the commission, conception and premiere of Variations V for the New York Philharmonic French-American Festival; John Cage's explorations and use of electro-acoustic sounds for Variations V, as well as David Tudor's assistance as a collaborative musician; Cage and Tudor's use of stage microphones to produce sounds based on the dancer's movements; tells a brief anecdote on Bob Moog's participation in the piece; more on how dancers trigger the sounds and the musicians control the dynamics of the sounds; describes the stage design for Variations V, including media elements; the upright architectural shape of human bodies, and, in particular, his opinion of the American dancer's physical tendencies; the physical mechanics of everyday movements and how certain dance movements are develped from these; technique as a way to extend natural movements rather then restrict movement; his interest in the particularities of weight and density in movement; his perspective on how television impacts the way bodies are framed and seen as related to documenting dance; [30:56-31:00, recording gap]; briefly, his choreographic use of theater in the round and how he sees this relating to recent scientific and technological advancements; a brief anecdote about an incident while on a vaudeville tour when he was 16; briefly, his Company's visit to the school in Dartington, U.K., in the summer of 1964, including the connections between Cornish College of the Arts, where Cunningham studied, and Dartington; a brief anecdote on being a student of Mrs. [Nellie Centennial] Cornish; his usual answer to the question of how he makes a dance; his choreographic decision making process as he starts to make a piece; his perspective on warming up the body for dance; list of basic human movement possibilities [while repeating the list verbally, gives examples of the movements and moves away from the microphone]; [returns to microphone] continues to describe basic human movements and levels, especially in relation to the ground; the dancer's discipline of daily practice and technique class; Cunningham's personal daily conditioning routine alongside technique classes, including his meditation practice; his perspective on how technique and "freeness" relate in dancing; dancing as an act of concentration; the dancer's usual methods of counting music as compared to Cunningham's use of a stopwatch to time sections; lists section times for his work Suite for Five (1956), and briefly, how the length of Field Dances (1963) is determined right before each performance; an anecdote on David Tudor's use of several timers while playing piano in performance [audience laughter]; the accuracy of the dancers' timing in repertory pieces, despite the sometimes long breaks between performing these pieces; briefly describes the proscenium stage and the idea of a steady place from which all actions radiate; his artistic interest in expanding the plane of actions in a dance piece to incorporate multiplicities of perspectives and activities within a broader spatial landscape; he recites a brief remark on dance by Ruth St. Denis during a talk to students [audience laughter]; recent performances in the New York City dance and theater communities using pedestrian movement and non-dancers, especially visual artists; his choreographic philosophies and practices as related to movement, time, and space; his Company presenting repertory in various types of venues; [56:00-56:02 recording gap]; [continues mid-sentence] lists the pieces that comprise an Event in a particular performance evening; an example of performing an Event in a gymnasium, including how performers and audience experience it as different from performances in a conventional theater; [58:27-58:35, two tapping sounds]; more on the public's increasing interest in and familiarity of [modern] dance; differences between modern dance companies as shaped by individual [directors'] visions. [60:03-end, clapping].
Type of Resource
Sound recording
RLIN/OCLC: 880581026
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20209201
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): f4d77dd0-b3f9-0133-3cfb-3c07547a230f
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

  • 1971: Created
  • 2021: Found by you!
  • 2022

MLA Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. "Lecture, Voice of America recording" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1971.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. "Lecture, Voice of America recording" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed July 24, 2021.

APA Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. (1971). Lecture, Voice of America recording Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (sound recording) Lecture, Voice of America recording, (1971)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=July 24, 2021 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Lecture, Voice of America recording