Unlike so many biographies of dance maestros, Merce Cunningham: Fifty Years
offers no litany of substance or psychological abuse. The volume, assembled by the archivist of Merce Cunningham's world-renowned U.S. company, records and analyzes Cunningham's work process and documents the provenance of his modern dance classics. Heavily spiced with biographical detail, Merce Cunningham
packages the choreographer's life story in a lovely design that respects his whole body and conveys a rare sense of movement in its mass of still photos.
From Library Journal
For over 50 years, modern dancer and choreographer Cunningham (b. 1919) has been creating dances that challenge performers and audiences alike. His remarkable journey of discovery has been marked by four events: his work with composer John Cage to separate the music from the dance; the adoption of chance operations in choreography; the influence of film and video; and the use of LifeForms, a computer application or "three-dimensional human animation system." The dance company's archivist for more than 20 years, Vaughan documents performances, tours, residencies, and grants, beginning with Cunningham's first work in 1942, and lets the recollections of principals?dancers, designers, and composers?serve as descriptions of each work. Excerpts from Cunningham's eloquent and provocative writings and interviews are interspersed throughout. Vaughan's writing is in keeping with Cunningham's stated preference "to speak of dancing in terms of `facts,' " yet this adherence to "facts" is the volume's one limitation?we hear more about uncomfortable accommodations while on tour than the 1992 death of Cage, Cunningham's lifelong partner and colleague. Handsomely illustrated, this accurate and extensive accounting of Cunningham's illustrious career is an essential addition to dance collections.?Joan Stahl, National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
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