Meet Merce!!! — Choreographer Spotlights

Cunningham Through Choreographers' Eyes

MCA "MERCE CUNNINGHAM - Common Time" February 11 - April 30

On February 11, 2017, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, in conjunction with Milwaukee’s Walker Art Center, will open their exhibit “MERCE CUNNINGHAM – Common Time”.

Thanks to the MCA, we will be able to experience Merce’s world through the exhibit’s artifacts--decors, backdrops, costumes, films and music— and savor Cunningham’s artistic genius expressed over his one-decade-short-of-a-century lifetime.

MCA Merce Cunningham
Charles Atlas, Still from Merce by Merce by Paik Part One: Blue Studio: Five Segments, 1975–76. © Charles Atlas. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine

An Ongoing Conversation about Dance, Art and Expression

Cunningham’s imprint on dance and the arts in general had significance beyond his long years. Many think of him as the progenitor of the cross-media artistic expressions that modern audiences may now take for granted.

Long as Merce Cunningham’s life was, and as powerful as his impact, his imprimatur on dance, art and culture was—like all art—merely a moment in an ongoing conversation.   He carried a torch lit by Martha Graham. If it weren’t for fascism’s rise in Germany, Josef and Anni Albers might not have migrated to the United States and founded their legendary arts incubator prototype at Black Mountain College where Cunningham’s mind and creativity reportedly exploded. And then later, his personal and artistic partnership with John Cage allowed the world to listen in on greats moving their respective art forms forward.

MCA Merce Cunningham
Merce Cunningham at Black Mountain College, 1948. Photo: Hazel Larsen Archer, courtesy of the Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer and the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.

Meet Today's Choreographers Meeting Merce

This artistic conversation—the very same one that Merce Cunningham was part of— continues today. That’s why Picture this Post has partnered with the Museum of Contemporary Art to bring choreographers on early tours of the “MERCE CUNNINGHAM – Common Time” exhibit.   Picture this Post will report on their reactions to the exhibit – how it touches their soul, their art, their reflections about their own artistic efforts and more.

Stay tuned to these pages and listen in as Picture this Post brings an ear to this ongoing conversation.. We all can Meet Merce!! and SEE CUNNINGHAM THROUGH CHOREOGRAPHERS’ EYES….

MCA Merce Cunningham
Composite image: Merce Cunningham in Canfield, 1970 Brooklyn Academy of Music Photo: James Klosty, Courtesy James Klosty (interior). Merce Cunningham Dance Company rehearsing Travelogue (1977), City Center Theater, New York City, September 1978 Photo: Johan Elbers Courtesy Johan Elbers (exterior).

Who are these choreographers?

Most are from Chicago. One is flying in from Florida, another from New York. More are expected to chime into the discussion in the months after the opening.

They all--

  • Have been nominated by their choreographer peers, or some by dancers and former dancers, for inclusion in these CHOREOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHTS;
  • think about dance 24/7, or very close to that;
  • have made expression through movement and dance a center of their life.

While all choreographers, they are also diverse—

  • representing the full gamut of dance genres from ballet, to experimental modern, to tap, to butoh, to wheelchair and disability dance, to aerial, to hip hop, to jazz, to flamenco, to East Indian, to African and more…
  • some are young and looking for their first high-profile break, others are relative elder statesmen who devote much of their energies to cultivating the next generations of talent, and everything in between…
  • some have toured the world, and some have moved here recently just to be part of the dance scene…
  • some are teachers and professors, and some are students..

And of course, each has a unique and special story of how they came to dance and how they envision their art going forward.

Look to these Picture this Post pages in the coming year/s for CHOREOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHTS.

Let’s learn what moves them…because they move us.

MCA Merce Cunningham
Cover image: composite image: Andrea Weber, Emma Desjardins, Jamie Scott, and Rashaun Mitchell in Antic Meet (1958), Joyce Theatre, New York, NY, 2011. Photo: ©Stephanie Berger, 2016 (interior); Merce Cunningham in Antic Meet. Photo: Richard Rutledge, Courtesy Merce Cunningham Trust (exterior)
MCA Merce Cunningham
Cover: composite image: Merce Cunningham Dance Company performing Anniversary Event during the exhibition of Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project, Tate Modern, London, November 2003 Photo: Gigi Giannella (interior); Merce Cunningham Dance Company performing Persepolis Event, Persepolis, Iran, September 8, 1972. Courtesy Merce Cunningham Trust (exterior).
MCA Merce Cunningham
Lisa Boudreau, Glen Rumsey, and Thomas Caley performing Scenario at l’Opera National de Paris-Palais Garnier, January 1998. Photo: Jacques Moatti, Courtesy the photographer.