Merce Cunningham

In the age of conformity, Merce Cunningham has resisted the temptation to remain aligned with his peers.Cunningham has pioneered a new school of thought in dance, and has set the standard for future pioneers.He is passionate about what he does and it has been evident in his works as a dancer and a choreographer.
Cunningham was born on April 16, 1919, in Centralia, Washington.At the age of twelve, Cunningham became interested in dance and started informal instruction.Upon graduation from high school, Cunningham began his formal dance instruction at the Cornish School of Fine and Applied Arts.After two years at the Cornish School, he studied at Mills College and at Bennington College; this is where he was invited to join Martha Graham's dance company in 1939.Graham was an incredible dancer who also choreographed during her career.While dancing for Graham, Cunningham began to make a name for himself in the dancing community.It was with Graham's encouragement that Cunningham started to choreograph on his own.His decision to start choreographing can be looked at as one of the most important decisions in the history of dance.
With the encouragement of John Cage, a composer, Cunningham left Martha Graham's Dance Company in 1945 to pursue a fulltime partnership with Cage.The two men would go on to have a very storied career.On the night of April 6, 1944, at the Humphrey Weidman Studio, Cunningham and Cage performed theirfirst solo recital.In attendance that night was acclaimed dance critic, Edwin Denby."When he was actively reviewing, Edwin Denby was this country's most respected critic of the dance"(Klosty 215).Cunningham'sfirst performance captured Denby from the very beginning with Cunningham's amazing steps, runs, and knee bends and he described them as "brilliant in lightness and speed."Denby was also impressed by Cunningham's gifts as a lyric dan…


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