Research Catalog

Interview with Merce Cunningham : at the University Musical Society

Title
Interview with Merce Cunningham : at the University Musical Society, 1999-02-11.
Author
Cunningham, Merce
Publication
February 11, 1999.

Available Online

NYPL Digital Collections

Details

Additional Authors
  • Johnson, Ben
  • Copeland, Roger
  • University of Michigan. University Musical Society, host institution.
  • Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, donor.
Found In
Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection.
Description
2 streaming audio files (80 minutes total) : digital, stereo
Summary
  • Streaming file 1, side 1: Ben Johnson introduces the Master of Arts interview with Merce Cunningham and interviewer Roger Copeland, ca. 0:00-1:45; Roger Copeland introduces Merce Cunningham and reads Cunningham's overview of the four main discoveries in his work, ca. 1:46-5:21; Merce Cunningham speaks about the influence of John Cage in his separation of music and dance, and how this approach liberated his creative process; he speaks about an interest in "enlarging" the possibilities of human movement in relation to the creative strategies and technologies that he uses in his choreography; Cunningham speaks about how working with dance on camera "opened his eye"; he speaks about his interest in dance and technology; Copeland introduces the video clips from Hand-drawn spaces, and, Variations V (1965); [video clips, ca. 11:26-16:45]; Cunningham briefly comments on Variations V; Cunningham speaks about displaying Hand-drawn spaces on three screens during an installation of it and using aspects of this for the decor in the forthcoming premiere of Biped (1999); Copeland introduces a slide that illustrates the motion capture process used in Hand-drawn spaces and Cunningham further describes the motion capture process; they speak about the potential use of motion capture for movement notation; Cunningham speaks about reasons for the movement phrases he selected for the motion capture process including considerations of the floor and space during the capture; [slideshow starts, ca. 25:43]; they speak about the "leaper" section in Trackers (1991) and how Cunningham's work with the LifeForms software impacted the movement; Cunningham speaks about how the technology of the pointe shoe impacted the movement possibilities of the dancer; he speaks about how the close-up shot changed film; he speaks about how working with dance on camera changed tempo, repetition, and precision in his choreography; Cunningham speaks about the increased use of arm movement in his choreography and attributes it to his work with dance on camera; he speaks about his dancers capabilities to incorporate the increased complexity of his movement; Copeland introduces a video clip of CRWDSPCR (1993); [video clip, ca. 34:25-36:15]; Cunningham comments on CRWDSPCR during the clips; Copeland speaks about the "triumvirate" of 20th century American choreographers as George Balanchine, Martha Graham, and Cunningham, and speaks about Cunningham's "move away from Graham"; Cunningham speaks about how he was drawn towards Cage's artistic ideas; Copeland speaks about the premiere of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at the American Dance Festival in 1958 and the shock of Cunningham's use of stopwatches; Cunningham speaks about the "precision and freedom" of using a stopwatch in working with his dancers; they speak about Cunningham's use of chance operations and indeterminacy in his choreography; Cunningham speaks about how using chance operations opened up his creative process; Copeland introduces a clip of Antic meet (1958); [video clip, ca. 44:41-45:57]; Cunningham describes Robert Rauschenberg's costumes for Antic meet and tells an anecdote about Cage trying on one of the costumes; ends abruptly.
  • Streaming file 2, side 2: Begins abruptly, Merce Cunningham continues to speak with Roger Copeland; Copeland introduces a clip of Place (1966); [video clip starts, ca. 0:43]; Cunningham speaks about the challenges of getting into the plastic sculpture at the end of Place and his inspiration for Place; he speaks about his preference to allow for open and personal interpretations of his works, and describes elements of his Winterbranch (1964) as an example of how he achieves this; Cunningham speaks about his interest in providing a "sound experience" for audiences and working with experimental sound and composers; he speaks about giving his audience a new experience rather than a known experience; Copeland introduces a clip of Walkaround time (1968); [video clip starts, ca. 10:48]; Cunningham speaks about Jasper Johns's set for Walkaround time; he speaks about his use of pedestrian movement for the student performers in Collage (1952) and his interest in complexity that made him focus more on technical movement; Copeland introduces a clip of RainForest (1968); [video clip, ca. 14:41-16:03]; Cunningham speaks about the challenge of traveling on tour with the RainForest decor; they speak about Rei Kawakubo's costumes for Scenario (1997); Cunningham speaks more on Kawakubo's costumes; [audience question and answer period, ca. 20:10-33:45]; Cunningham speaks about the Robert Rauschenberg's costumes and backdrop, and Morton Feldman's music for Summerspace (1958), to illustrate how he works independently with his collaborators; they speak more about how he works with collaborators; Cunningham speaks about his admiration of Rauschenberg as one of the "great theater designers"; Cunningham speaks about his criteria for choosing his dancers including physical strength, mental resiliency, and compatibility with himself and the Company; he speaks about how his dancers don't hear the music until the day of the performance and tells an anecdote about Ground level overlay (1995); Cunningham speaks about his technique.
Alternative Title
Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials.
Subjects
Genre/Form
  • Interviews.
  • Sound recordings.
Note
  • Roger Copeland interviews Merce Cunningham for a live audience at the University Musical Society, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, on February 11, 1999; coincides with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company residency at the University of Michigan.
  • Title, date, and location provided by cataloger based on typed note on original cassette and audition.
  • Typed note on original cassette: "University Musical Society ; Merce Cunningham - Master Interview ; February 11, 1999 - Duplicate 1hr 20min".
  • Sound quality is fair to mostly good; the recording volume varies and is low at times but the speakers are mostly audible. The audience questions are taken at a distance from the microphone.
Access (note)
  • Patrons can access streaming audio only on site at NYPL Research Libraries.
Source (note)
  • Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation,
Linking Entry (note)
  • Forms part of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection.
Call Number
*LTC-A 1454
OCLC
  • 914901824
  • 914901824
Author
Cunningham, Merce, interviewee.
Title
Interview with Merce Cunningham : at the University Musical Society, 1999-02-11.
Publisher
February 11, 1999.
Playing Time
004547 003345
Type of Content
spoken word
Type of Medium
audio
Type of Carrier
audiocassette
online resource
Digital File Characteristics
audio file
Event
Recorded live at the University Musical Society, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1999 February 11.
Restricted Access
Patrons can access streaming audio only on site at NYPL Research Libraries.
Original Version
Archival original: (1 audio cassette (80 minutes) : analog) in *LTC-A 1454.
Linking Entry
Forms part of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection.
Local Note
Transferred from original analog cassette by George Blood Audio on March 26, 2015; two preservation files were created based on cassette sides.
Source
Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.
Connect to:
NYPL Digital Collections
Added Author
Johnson, Ben, host.
Copeland, Roger, interviewer.
University of Michigan. University Musical Society, host institution.
Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, donor.
Added Title
Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials.
Found In:
Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection.
Research Call Number
*LTC-A 1454
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