I cant remember when I fell in love with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
The first piece I dedicated to Merce was "Burdocks", which, after he heard it, he used for "Borst Park" (1972).
Dear Mom and Dad, We're in this crazy-looking old hotel in Russel Square - which John found for us our first night in London, because the original "hotel" arranged by the travel agent was awful, and was miles away from the theatre.
While Merce always determined where he was going, he was simultaneously alert and responsive to the material at hand: a freighter gliding by on the Hudson, a headline hed glanced at in that mornings New York Times, a dancer stretching her leg up the wall.
Cunningham stripped his choreographic process of all but the essential element of movement, excluding decor, narrative, musicanything decorative or extrinsic.
Whats really extraordinary about Merce is that if you look at a list of people who say theyve been influenced or affected by him, there arent any two choreographers that are anything like each other . . .
I had friends in the Cunningham Company long before I joined in 1980. In the 1970s I went to the concerts, year after yearI was perplexed, to say the least, but I was also curious, and, in general, became more interested by what was going on.
Given Merce Cunninghams lifelong capacity for reinvention, it is no surprise that he is posthumously pushing the Walker Art Center to rethink how and what it collects.
As I write, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company is coming to the end of a month-long domestic segment of its Legacy Tour, in Chicago. The Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, issued a proclamation declaring November 18 Merce Cunningham Day in his city.
While back in New York in between tour stops, Merce Cunningham Dance Company members Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener sat down with Claudia La Rocco in Rieners Manhattan apartment to talk about life with and after Cunninghamand his company.