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American dancer, choreographer and teacher, Merce Cunningham, died last week at the age of 90. Always rooted firmly in the avant-garde, Cunningham was incredibly influential on modern dance. He is known for his spare sense, having stripped the storytelling aspect from dance, revealing raw movement. Recently we talked about chance operations in the context of music, specifically as composed by John Cage, but Cunningham adapted the concept to dance. As the longtime professional and personal partner to John Cage, Cunningham and Cage collaborated on a number of projects and their perspective disciplines informed each others work throughout. Cunningham worked with other giants of the avant-garde such as Jasper Johns, David Tudor and Robert Rauchenberg.
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The Merce Cunningham Dance Company was formed in 1953 and has performed over 200 dances and 800 “events” in since its inception. Though his dancing career ended in the 1990s, he choreographed until the end. His last dance , Nearly Ninety, was performed for his birthday in April 2009. See more on Merce here.
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