Saturday, August 1, 2009
rip Merce Cunningham
(April 16, 1919 – July 26, 2009)
is responsible for my transition from ballet into modern dance theater.
Watching the floating silver balloons and hearing John Cage's chance/change score transported me as the magic of snowflakes, Tchaikovsky and Balanchine's bourree'ing corps in earlier years drew me into ballet magic.
A solid foundation was laid by the training, repertoire and temperaments of wonderful, fiery, Russell Fratto (Fokine plus) and patient Jeannette Lauret (Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo).
Sandy Broyard teaching us Shaker choreography to the Iron Butterfly's Inna Godda da Vida bridged the classical, traditional and modern.
Learning to spin in place for thirty-plus minutes transposed Shaker, Sufi, and fun, transportive traditions.
The list is long of gifted, visionary, incredible teachers, mentors and colleagues. Their life lives on in many.
Merce's impish quality danced people into the future.
Illustration: Lura Astor