This is the home of the Merce Cunningham Centennial Blog.

The posts currently on line are just the beginning– but all are ready to read and watch–and listen–if you like. In coming weeks, the categories will be filled out, with archival materials, reviews, essays, and interviews.

New essays, archival photos never before published, videos newly launched, new interviews, and more will be added during the celebration of Merce Cunningham’s 100th birthday on April 16, 2019 and during the year following.

Thank you for visiting. 

Featured post


Merce Cunningham at his 498 3rd Avenue  studio. Photo: James Klosty

PARIS–My last conversation with Merce Cunningham was at his apartment. There he graciously held what was in effect a series of farewells, courteous to the end. That afternoon I read this  to him, from the Tao te Ching:

Only he who is willing to give his body for the sake of the world is fit to be entrusted with the world. Only he who can do it with love is worthy of being the steward of the world.

 “This was you, Merce,” I said.

“Yes,” he said.

Over time, Cunningham used his dancers as his every element: animal, vegetable, and mineral. Non-narrative as it may be, his choreography is a kind of story theater, teeming with images composed, in their entirety, by the people on stage at any given moment.

Continue reading “CUNNINGHAM’S DANCERS “


Chance is the dogma, but look deeper.” Carolyn Brown

If the dancer dances, everything is there. The meaning is there if that’s what you want.” Merce Cuningham


Merce Cunningham and Gordon Mumma in St. Paul de Vence 1966

STARTING more than  seventy years ago, Merce Cunningham began to change the way people dance and the people see dancing in the same way that Picasso and the cubists changed the way people painted and the way people see painting.

He took dance apart and put it back together again, leaving out all but the most essential. He stripped dance of conventional narrative; he ordered it by change procedures he conceived it without music and without decor. He took it out of the proscenium (but later put it back) and exploded the stage picture into fragments. He made the viewer the auteur. The great irony inherent in all this is that only a great storyteller possessed of extraordinary musicality could have stripped away so much and be left with more Continue reading “THE WAY OF MERCE”


“Variations V” (1965) experiments with “intermedia.” Video is integrated into the performance, with projections by Stan VanDerBeek and overlaid TV distortions by Nam June Paik . Twelve sound-sensitive electronic poles dot the stage; sound is triggered by the dancers’ movements and then altered or delayed by the musicians.

MUSICIANS John Cage “Variations V”
DANCERS Merce Cunningham, Carolyn Brown, Barbara Lloyd, Sandra Neels, Albert Reid, Peter Saul, Gus Solomons Jr.


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