Merce Cunningham dies ~ theatre notes

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Merce Cunningham dies

This morning I read, via George Hunka at Superfluities Redux, that Merce Cunningham died on Sunday night, aged 90. Cunningham was one of the giant figures of modern dance over a career that lasted for nearly seven decades: he revolutionised the art, and his lifelong partnership with John Cage was one of the key artistic engines of the 20th century. As Alastair Macaulay writes in the New York Times, "Cunningham ranks with Isadora Duncan, Serge Diaghilev, Martha Graham and George Balanchine in making people rethink the essence of dance and choreography, posing a series of 'But' and 'What if?' questions over a career of nearly seven decades... In his final years he became almost routinely hailed as the world’s greatest choreographer. For many, he had simply been the greatest living artist since Samuel Beckett."

We were lucky enough to see him here in Melbourne two years ago, when he was the centre of a residency at the Melbourne Festival that celebrated the far-reaching influence of his work: on the final night of the festival, Cunningham came on stage to a full-hearted standing ovation from the capacity State Theatre crowd. Vale, Mr Cunningham; and thank you.


Matthew said...

I remember that night at the State Theatre fondly, and the previous Sunday in Federation Square, when The Melbourne Event was performed, as well. The news of Cunningham's death charges the experience of seeing those performances with added significance. Vale, indeed.

Michael said...

because of his long artistic and personal partnership with John Cage I propose a minutes noise in his memory