Interview with Merce Cunningham, 1978-12-28/1979-03-16
NamesMerce Cunningham Dance Company (Associated name)Cunningham, Merce (Interviewee)Vaughan, David, 1924- (Interviewer)
Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials
Dates / OriginDate Created: 1978-12-28Date Created: 1979-01-12Date Created: 1979-03-16
Library locationsRodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded SoundShelf locator: *LTC-A 1446
TopicsBehrman, David -- For nearly an hourBrown, Carolyn, 1927-Cage, JohnCage, John -- Cheap imitationCage, John -- Credo in usCunningham, MerceDilley, BarbaraDuchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968Erdman, JeanJohns, Jasper, 1930-Mehl, BrynarNeels, SandraReid, AlbertSatie, Erik, 1866-1925 -- SocrateSlayton, Jeffjr, Solomons, Gus, 1940-Swinston, RobertTudor, David, 1926-1996 -- no. 1
Rainforestno. 1no. 1Merce Cunningham Dance CompanyAssemblage (Motion picture)Canfield (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Dromenon (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Event (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Objects (Choreographic work : Cunningham)RainForest (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Scramble (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Second hand (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Signals (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Tread (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Walkaround time (Choreographic work : Cunningham)Choreography
NotesContent: David Vaughan interviews Merce Cunningham, probably in [New York, New York], on December 28, 1978, January 12, and March 16, 1979. This interview was created as research for David Vaughan's book, Merce Cunningham: Fifty years (New York, Aperture).Content: Title and dates provided by cataloger based on audition and handwritten notes on original container.Content: Handwritten notes on original original container: "David Vaughan: Interview with Merce Cunningham ; 28 Dec. 1978, cont'd 12 Jan. 1979; A. 28 December 1978 ; continued 12 January 1979 ; WAT [Walkaround time] B. Resumed 16 March 1979".Venue: Originally recorded in, [New York, New York], 1978 December 28, 1979 January 12, 1979 March 16.Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.Citation/reference: Forms part of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection.
Physical DescriptionAudiocassetteExtent: 1 audiocassette (94 minutes) : analogSound quality is mostly good; at times the interviewee is muffled or speaks away from the recording microphone and there are background noises.
DescriptionStreaming file 1, Dec. 28, 1978, and Jan. 12, 1979: Begins abruptly; Merce Cunningham speaks with David Vaughan on Dec. 28, 1978 about a choreographic note for RainForest (1968) in his book Changes: notes on choreography (New York, Something Else Press); he speaks about the entrances and sections for his original cast of [Merce Cunningham Dance Company] dancers in RainForest: Carolyn Brown, Barbara Lloyd [Dilley], Sandra Neels, Albert Reid, Gus Solomons jr; edits he made to RainForest for filming the Dance in America program; inspirations for RainForest; speaking with Jasper Johns about using Andy Warhol's pillows in RainForest; an anecdote on speaking with David Tudor about the music for RainForest; the costumes for RainForest including an anecdote about Carolyn Brown's costume; choreographing and rehearsing RainForest and Walkaround time (1968) during a residency in Buffalo, New York; Cunningham tells an anecdote about the Frank Stella set for Scramble (1967) during the performances at Buffalo; he tells an anecdote about the dinner party when Johns asked Marcel Duchamp to collaborate on a work with Cunningham, Walkaround time (1968); he speaks about the set design for Walkaround time by Duchamp and its construction by Johns; Cunningham speaks about some of his references to Duchamp within Walkaround time, including the entr'acte; more on the choreography for Walkaround time; the music for Walkaround time, David Berhman's For nearly an hour (1968); he speaks briefly about dancer Jeff Slayton; Cunningham speaks about the filming of Assemblage (1968) in Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco; the choreographic ordering system, utilizing playing cards, for his Canfield (1969); some of the movement from Assemblage that he re-used in Canfield, including an anecdote on Robert Swinston and Brynar Mehl; more on how he determined the order, by chance, for each performance of Canfield; Neels' notes on Canfield as well as the lack of filmed documentation of it; his interest in using sections from Canfield for his Events; [brief break]; begins abruptly, Cunningham tells an anecdote about his inspiration for Canfield while visiting Marcel and "Teeny" [Alexina] Duchamp on a tour; [ca. 34:40, end of Dec. 28, 1978 interview]; [Jan. 12, 1979, begins abruptly]; Cunningham speaks about Bruce Nauman's set for Tread (1970), consisting of industrial fans; he speaks about how Second hand (1970) is an expansion of his solo Idyllic song (1944); he speaks about using John Cage's Cheap imitation (1969), an arrangement of Erik Satie's Socrate (1917-1918), for Second hand; more on the choreography for Second hand; ends abruptly.Streaming file 2, Jan. 12, and Mar. 16, 1979: Begins abruptly; Merce Cunningham continues to speak with David Vaughan on Jan. 12, 1979 about the choreography for his Second hand (1970); he tells a brief anecdote about taking M.C. Richards to a Town Hall performance of Socrate; they speak about the color spectrum of Jasper Johns' costumes for Second hand; Cunningham describes some of the cameras used for filming with Charles Atlas, as well as some of the challenges they face while filming dance; Cunningham speaks about his Signals (1970), including its sections, original cast, and the chance methods used to order the choreography; more on the costumes and chairs in the set design; some of the signals given by the dancers as cues during performances of Signals; Cunningham speaks about his Objects (1970) and the set design by Neil Jenny that consists of the objects referenced by the title; briefly, his re-use of a section from Septet (1953) in Objects; he lists works that he'd like to reconstruct; [ca. 22:37, end of Jan. 12 interview]; [ca. 24:12, Mar. 16, 1979, begins abruptly]; Cunningham speaks about taking tap dance classes during his brief stint at George Washington University following his high school graduation; staying with his brother while at George Washington University, seeing Vaudeville and exhibition ballroom performances while there, and returning to Centralia, [Washington], the following year; they speak briefly about the duet with Dorothy Herrmann that was choreographed by Bonnie Bird and performed at Mills College; they speak about the 1939 article by John Cage, "Goal: New music, new dance"; Cunningham speaks about writing to Cage to ask him to compose the music for Credo in us (1942) and Jean Erdman's nerves about Cage's delayed response; Cunningham speaks about how his choreographic explorations paralleled those of Cage's artistic ideas; they speak about Nancy Wilson Ross's lecture on Dadaism and Zen [Buddhism] at Cornish College of the Arts that impacted Cage; Cunningham speaks briefly about the inspiration and the movement qualities in his Open road (1947); Vaughan quotes a review of Cunningham's Sixteen dances for soloist and company of three (1951); Cunningham speaks about his Dromenon (1947), including its complexity and similarities to Second hand (1970); they list the original cast of women in Dromenon, including the ways their dance training with Martha Graham flavored the movement; they speak briefly about Cunningham performing with Donald McKayle in Jean Erdman's Solstice (1950); ends abruptly.
Type of ResourceSound recording
IdentifiersRLIN/OCLC: 913963508NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20732909Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 4f49a680-b8fa-0133-43ec-60f81dd2b63c
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