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Merce Cunningham Focus Day, 2000
Macaulay, Alastair (Moderator)
Vaughan, David, 1924- (Moderator)
Vaughan, David, 1924- (Speaker)
Farmer, Holley (Speaker)
Kaiser, Paul, 1956- (Speaker)
Eshkar, Shelley (Speaker)
Santimyer, Kristy (Speaker)
Diamond, Emma (Speaker)
Bryars, Gavin (Speaker)
Copp, Aaron (Speaker)
Squire, Daniel S (Speaker)
Bokaer, Jonah (Speaker)
Therrien, Cheryl (Speaker)
Schiphorst, Thecla (Speaker)
Wilson, Ronald, 1946- (Speaker)
Gaskill, William (Speaker)
Cunningham, Merce (Interviewee)
Quinn Young, Susan (Speaker)
McBride, Pat, active 1940-1950 (Speaker)
Macaulay, Alastair (Speaker)

Dance Audio Archive

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 2000-10-14
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZTCO 3-3062
Cunningham, Merce -- Interviews
Farmer, Holley
Kaiser, Paul, 1956-
Eshkar, Shelley
Santimyer, Kristy
Diamond, Emma
Bryars, Gavin
Copp, Aaron
Squire, Daniel S
Schiphorst, Thecla
Bokaer, Jonah
Therrien, Cheryl
Wilson, Ronald, 1946-
Gaskill, William
McBride, Pat, active 1940-1950
Gallo, Suzanne
Setterfield, Valda
Vaughan, David
Quinn Young, Susan
Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Changing steps (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Walkaround time (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Septet (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Locale (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Biped (Choreographic work : Cunningham)
Mixed media (Music)
Music and dance
Panel discussions
Content: Title supplied by cataloger.
Venue: Recorded at The Pit, Barbicaon Centre 2000, October 14 London, England.
Funding: The conservation and cataloging of this recording was made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The support of the National Endowment for the Arts is also gratefully acknowledged.
Acquisition: Gift Alastair Macaulay 2014
Content: Streaming audio file 1 (approximately 47 minutes). [Ambient noise followed by Alastair Macaulay's introductory remarks regarding the program schedule and other administrative matters.] Alastair Macaulay begins his lecture, entitled Movement and meaning in Merce Cunningham's choreography, by describing and demonstrating movements from Merce Cunningham's works Changing steps and Walkaround time; Macaulay dedicates the day to David Vaughan; Macaulay speaks about Cunningham's background and evolution as an artist, including various early influences such as Native American dance and the beginnings of his collaborations with John Cage; Macaulay speaks about and shows, while describing, film excerpts of the Cunningham works Four walls and Septet; Macaulay speaks about Cunningham's works Seasons and Summerspace and the concept of incompleteness including with respect to space; experiments with chance; Robert Rauschenberg and the nature of his collaborations with Cunningham and Cage; Macaulay speaks about and shows, while describing, film excerpts of Cunningham's work Crises, Story, and Variations V; Macaulay speaks about changes in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company including the turnover in dancers, Cunninghams' commission for the Opéra de Paris Ballet, and his new work Torse [recording ends abruptly but continues on streaming audio file 2]. (The film excerpts of Four walls and Crises are from the television documentary Cage/Cunningham, directed and edited by Elliot Caplan).
Content: Streaming audio file 2 (approximately 22 minutes). [First approximate one minute reiterates the final one minute of streaming audio file 1]. Alastair Macaulay continues to speak about Merce Cunningham's work Torse; Macaulay speaks about Cunningham's use of film and video; he speaks about and shows, while describing, a film excerpt of Cunningham's work Locale; Macaulay speaks about Cunningham's interest in movement of any kind, from that of animals to people on the street; how he uses computers while choreographing, as for example in Biped; Macaulay describes and demonstrates movements from Biped and speaks about possible interpretations of the work.
Content: Streaming audio file 3 (approximately 47 minutes). [Ambient noise.] Alastair Macaulay introduces David Vaughan; David Vaughan speaks about the Merce Cunningham video film, Camera three: a video Event, directed by Merrill Brockway; Vaughan speaks about and shows, while describing, substantial sections from the film [the soundtrack including Cunningham's voice can be heard; Macaulay also contributes an occasional remark]. [Merce Cunningham enters to applause.] In response to Macaulay's questions, Cunningham speaks about the making of Biped [recording ends abruptly but continues on streaming audio file 4].
Content: Streaming audio file 4 (approximately 22 minutes). Merce Cunningham continues to speak, in response to Alastair Macaulay's questions, about Biped and the choreographic process including the use of computers and Lifeforms; the concept of inserting a wrong step or note including as illustrated by an anecdote about John Cage; questions and answers from the audience including with respect to a theater event held at Black Mountain [College] in 1952 involving a work by Anotonin Artaud (as translated by M.C. Richards), introduced to John Cage and Cunningham by Pierre Boulez [applause]; Macaulay introduces Holley Farmer and the other members of the panel of dancers currently performing in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company [Daniel Squire, Jonah Bokaer, and Cheryl Therrien]; [recording ends abruptly but continues on streaming audio file 5].
Content: Streaming audio file 5 (approximately 47 minutes). In response to questions from Alastair Macaulay, the panel of dancers, Cheryl Therrien, Jonah Bokaer, Daniel Squire, and Holley Farmer, each speaks about what initially brought her or him, respectively, to dance for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company [gap]; Therrien and Farmer each describes specific movements in Cunningham's work Biped; Squire speaks about the making of his solo in Cunningham's work Interscape; Bokaer speaks about the falls in Cunningham's work Walkaround time; each of the four panel members speaks about whether they imagine a story or look for meaning when they dance Cunningham's work; discussion of casting; Therrien speaks about the music in Biped; questions and answers from the audience; closing remarks by Therrien, Squire, and Macaulay [applause and announcements by Macaulay; ambient noise]. [Session following break begins at approximately 31:00 minutes into streaming audio file 5.] Macaulay introduces Thecla Schiphorst and her work on Lifeforms with Cunningham (Schiphorst's remarks are incidental to Macaulay's and concern administrative matters); David Vaughan introduces the panelist Pat McBride Lousada; Lousada speaks about dancing in Cunningham's work Seasons; Vaughan introduces William Gaskill; Gaskill speaks about the impact on himself and other London theater people of seeing the Merce Cunningham Dance Company perform; Vaughan introduces Ronald Wilson, who worked as a stage designer for Marie Rambert (briefly) and a dancer-mime in Copenhagen; Wilson speaks about Marie Rambert; her reaction to Cunningham's work; his own reaction to Cunningham's work [recording ends abruptly but continues on streaming audio file 6].
Content: Streaming audio file 6 (approximately 31 minutes). Ronald Wilson continues to speak about his own reaction to Merce Cunningham's works including the performance of an Event he saw in Copenhagen (Susan Quinn Young, who was a participant, contributes a few remarks); David Vaughan introduces the panel of dancers formerly in the Merce Cunningham Company: Susan Quinn Young, Kristy Santimyer, and Emma Diamond; in response to Vaughan's questions, the panelists each speaks about what has changed and what has stayed constant in the Cunningham style and methods since their time; the panelists speak about Cunningham's video dances such as Coast zone; Vaughn and the panelists reminisce briefly about the performance of Summerscape under storm conditions in Copenhagen; in response to a question from the audience, Vaughan and Alastair Macaulay speak about Valda Setterfield; in response to a question from Macaulay, the panelists speak about Cunningham's classes including their difficulty; Vaughan ends the discussion and thanks the speakers.
Content: Streaming audio file 7 (approximately 40 minutes). [Ambient noise.] Alastair Macaulay introduces the topic of the panel discussion: Merce Cunningham's collaborators on Biped; Macaulay introduces the composer Gavin Byars; Byars speaks about seeing Cunningham's work Noctures with John Cage playing Erik Satie's music on the piano; working with Cunningham on Biped including an anecdote about Cage; Macaulay introduces the lighting designer Aaron Copp; Aaron Copp speaks about how he first came to work with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1992; the freedom Cunningham allows lighting designers; designing the lighting for Biped including how he came to the concept of the shifting squares; how he works with dances that already have lighting designs, as for example in Summerspace and in Interscape, including his discussion with Robert Rauschenberg regarding the latter; Shelley Eshkar, who works with computer visuals, speaks about his first encounter with Cunningham; his impression of the music for Biped; Paul Kaiser, who also works with computer visuals, speaks about his background; other collaborators not present including the late Suzanne Gallo, the costume designer; how his dinner with Laura Kuhn and Cunningham led to the Hand-drawn spaces project; his and Eshkar's projections for Biped including the use of chance to determine the sequences of the computer-generated images; Bryars and Kaiser (?) speak about how the duration of the music and computer visuals of Biped have had, on occasion, to be extended in performance; in response to questions from the audience, members of the panel discuss changes in the projections in the world premiere of Biped, at Berkeley, University of California [in April 1999], and its later performance at Lincoln Center in New York City [in July 1999]; Kaiser and Eshkar speak about the choice of images for the projections in Biped and their intended effects; Macaulay speaks about the costumes for Biped, designed by Suzanne Gallo, when new; Copp speaks about Gallo including her background; their close friendship; he recounts several anecdotes about her and speaks aboout her unique rapport with Cunningham and with the company; David Vaughan speaks about a particularly striking aspect of Gallo's work for Biped; Macaulay's closing remarks including thanks to (among others) Val Bourne of Dance Umbrella and Tabitha Clayton [applause].
Physical Description
Extent: 4 audiocassettes (approximately 3 hr., 17 min.) ; quarter-track; 1.875 ips
Sound quality is good.
Merce Cunningham Focus Day, a series of lectures and panel discussions on Merce Cunningham and his work, held at The Pit, at the Barbican Centre, in London, England, sponsored by Dance Umbrella and Bite (Barbican International Theatre Event?) on October 14, 2000. Participants include Merce Cunningham, Alastair Macaulay as moderator and speaker, David Vaughan, Holley Farmer, Daniel Squire, Jonah Bokaer, Cheryl Therrien, Thecla Schiphorst (who contributes only a few remarks, with respect to administrative matters), Pat McBride Lousada, William Gaskill, Ronald Wilson, Susan Quinn Young, Kristy Santimyer, Emma Diamond, Paul Kaiser, Gavin Bryars, Aaron Copp, and Shelley Eshkar.
Type of Resource
Sound recording
RLIN/OCLC: 949856893
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20959939
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): f9692b30-2c66-0136-a542-39de17e99462
Rights Statement
The copyright and related rights status of this item has been reviewed by The New York Public Library, but we were unable to make a conclusive determination as to the copyright status of the item. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use.

Item timeline of events

  • 2000: Created
  • 2018: Digitized
  • 2020: Found by you!
  • 2021

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Merce Cunningham Focus Day" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2000.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Merce Cunningham Focus Day" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed September 19, 2020.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2000). Merce Cunningham Focus Day Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (sound recording) Merce Cunningham Focus Day, (2000)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=September 19, 2020 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Merce Cunningham Focus Day