Merce Cunningham is recognized as one of the primary dance innovators of the twentieth century. He counts four events that led to important discoveries in his work: 1) his initial collaboration with composer John Cage in the late 1940s, when he began to separate the dance and the music; 2) his use of ‘chance” operations in his choreography; 3) his use of video and film as a medium to choreograph works specifically for the camera; 4) his use of dance computer software to create movement possibilities for his choreography. Lessons in this unit focus on techniques for creating a dance with ‘chance’ procedures, investigating technology and dance, and composing music and dance pieces independently, then performing them simultaneously. This unit is rich with ideas and concepts that break traditional techniques for choreography. The themes of Transformation and Enduring Values provide a strong web throughout.
To make the best us of these lesson plans, we recommend first conducting an internet search for Merce Cunningham, as well as video clips of his work, including CRWDSPCR.
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