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The MCA strikes gold again with a new retrospective on Merce Cunningham, one of the forefront modern dance artists of our generation. Cunningham is as known for his contemporary dance choreographic innovations as well as for his collaborations with artists from different art forms such as Andy Warhol and Frank Gehry. 

Born in Washington state in 1919, Cunningham followed his heart to NYC and went on to be a soloist for the  Martha Graham Dance company for six years. Afterwards, spending time teaching at Black Mountain College, Cunningham became exposed to different art forms such as theater and visual arts. It was here that he came up with the idea of choreographing to include other disciplines. 

Merce Cunningham Dance Company frequently collaborated with visual artists, architects, designers, and musicians; back then, it was rather pioneering! Over the course of his career, Cunningham choreographed more than 200 dances and over 800 “events,” (site specific) choreographic works. Working to disengage his pieces from being set to music; and in such, springing the music onto the dancers at rehearsal for the first time, Cunningham was able to tell a complete story. So ahead of his time, it's great to see Cunningham's work honored today when people might begin to forget who he was!

Merce Cunningham, 1981.

Image courtesy of: Places Journal, photographed by: Terry Stevenson

Some costumes from the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. 

Image courtesy of: The New York Times, photographed by:Gene Pittman

"Common Time" runs at the MCA through April 30th and also, concurrently through July 30th at Minneapolis' Walker Art Center.

Image courtesy of: Concierge Preferred, photographed by: Nathan Keay

If there's one word to describe Cunningham, it'd be "innovative".

Image courtesy of: Chicago Tribune, photograph courtesy of: Alyssa Pointer

Posted in: Culture

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