I’m surprising myself by how much I feel the loss of Merce Cunningham, or more precisely, how much more acutely I’m feeling an appreciation for his work right now.
From the LA Times’ obituary by Lewis Segal:
“When you work on something that you don’t know about, how do you figure out what’s right for that moment?” he asked rhetorically in the 2005 Times interview. “Using chance can be a way of looking at what you do in another way without depending always on your memory. It helps something else to come out that otherwise you wouldn’t have known about.”
And from Alastair Macaulay, the NY Times dance critic who’s obviously been deeply contemplating for years having to write Merce’s obit at some point:
Mr. Cunningham often spoke and wrote movingly about the nature of dance and would laugh about its maddening impermanence. “You have to love dancing to stick to it,” he once wrote. “It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”
On the other hand, there’s always this hilariously insipid interview by R. Couri Hay from a 1974 Cunningham-Cage party at Louise Nevelson’s place to lighten the mood. My favorite “question” is around 27:00: “Perhaps, Mr Cage can tell- can we ask you about– can you tell us some of the–interesting things that happen when you were working with–Mr Cunningham–tell us all about some of the–incredible little things that must have happened when you were working out some, uh, new–fabulous things?”