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Choreographer Merce Cunningham Dies

Merce Cunningham, the avant-garde choreographer whose unorthodox approaches and discoveries throughout a six-decade career [starting in 1942] made him one of the most important artists of the 20th century, influencing filmmakers and directors as well as choreographers worldwide, died Sunday night, the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation said. He was 90.

Simply put, Mr. Cunningham expanded what is possible in dance.

Have you ever seen him in action or his work? Tell us about why Cunningham's choreography matters to you.

By Patricia Sullivan |  July 27, 2009; 10:41 AM ET
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I could watch Merce's work endlessly. He had an sense of spacing the dancers and playing with time that was fascinating. He was the master of making interesting patterns that worked with the different parts of the stage to frame movement.

I hate that I now have to write this in past tense.

Posted by: jchaus | July 27, 2009 1:14 PM

It's helpful to read this recent review by The Post.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/15/AR2009071503835.html

Seems to me from the strikingly divided audience reaction Cunningham constantly garnered -- he was either exhilarating or ponderous and pretentious, accd to those who paid money for his shows --that Cunningham is an example of an artist whose obituaries seem to shower him with praise to the near-exclusion of those who were critical of his art. Seems to me one could do him justice by explaining why dance enthusiasts saw him as innovative but also note much higher why many in the audience were alienated by his work.


Posted by: wapshot2003 | July 27, 2009 1:36 PM

I saw Cunningham's troupe in the early 70's, back when I was involved in the dance scene. Unique, riveting.

Posted by: martinra1 | July 27, 2009 3:04 PM

What I found fascinating was the severance of movement from emotion. The total stage picture could be moving to me, but the dancers' movements didn't look like they were directly related to dancers feelings. In a way it was like Balanchine's abstract stuff - or even a continuance of Les Sylphides as opposed to the previous story ballets. He managed to make the movement abstract without its becoming boring; instead, the very movement itself made the impression and not the feelings the movement represented.
Also what I saw was visually very exciting and innovative at the time (projections over the dancers for isntance) though today it's become a cliche.

Posted by: bohmaharonov | July 28, 2009 1:31 AM

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