Monday, July 27, 2009

RIP - Merce Cunningham

I was lucky enough to witness the Merce Cunningham Dance Company on more than one occasion, and to actually witness the great man contribute his steps.

Attending Goldsmith's College in the 1980's - physically attached, as it was at the time, to the world famous Laban Centre on Laurie Grove - was an instruction in many things, mostly unrelated to the subject I "studied". Dance was one of them. Without attending Goldsmith's, I am certain that one complete area of the Arts might have completely passed me by.

My first experience of attending a dance performance was Yolanda Snaith in a small performance space in East London, just after arriving at college. I had few hopes for the evening, but instead my eyes were opened to the talent, dedication and prowess of great dancers and why they deserve respect. I went expecting to be rather bored, but instead I was profoundly moved.

Merce Cunningham (like Martha Graham) was among the towering figures of modern forms of dance - the Elvis or Beatles of his discipline in many ways. He went on dancing until well into traditional old age and, in this respect, he is also an inspiration to those of us who have ambition to stay fit and healthy as long as possible.


1 comment:

goneforeign said...

I had a similar experience, he taught a summer session course at the university where I worked and my position gave me access to anything that was happening there. I sat quietly at the back and then took photos of him and the students during the activity sessions. It was a wonderful summer, there were at least half a dozen arts courses offered by internationally known instructors and I sat in on all of them.