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Merce Cunningham: The Modernizing of Modern Dance Paperback – January 8, 2004
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-Sally Sommer, Professor of American Dance Studies at Florida State University.
"Examines the trajectory of Merce The Choreographer and places him just where I think he belongs--as a global artist of the twentieth century moving in all directions into the twenty-first..""
-Valda Setterfield, Member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, 1964-1974
"Copeland's book will bring joy to Cunningham partisans."
-Allan Ulrich, "Dance Magazine
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Top Customer Reviews
As someone else noted, it's very repetitive and doesn't need to be 300 pages. For example, Copeland writes over and over again about the aesthetics of cool indifference, but that point was clearly made in the introduction. Another issue is how biased it is. I love Cunningham's work but it has its artistic problems. Instead of actually spelling out the details of arguments about those problems, however, Copeland simplifies any criticism and then concludes that the critics just don't get it. For example, Cunningham was a control freak who set up rigorous systems for chance decisions. But as Steve Paxton pointed out, if Cunningham REALLY was into change as a way of taking himself out of the decision making process, then his movement vocabularies (and dance aesthetics) would change from piece to piece. Instead of really digging into the issue of rigorous control and chance and the consistency of Cunningham's aesthetic, Copeland just emphasizes again and again how impersonal and freeing Cunningham's methods and work can be. But it isn't that simple.
Copeland similarly quickly dismisses any approach to dance movement that is anti-intellectual in nature by going back to early modern-dance's emphasis on emotions and the unconscious. But that's just not the complete story; why should we believe that there are only two options: "cool intellectualism" or "hot emotionalism"? Again, Copeland simplifies not only by presenting only two options but also by basing them in Cunningham's early career (e.g. as a reaction to Graham). But Cunningham's career spanned decades and many approaches to dance movement arose that go beyond that facile dichotomy.Read more ›