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Merce Cunningham (1919-2009), Avant-Garde Dancer Choreographer, RIP

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Merce Cunningham, Dance Visionary, Dies
by Alastair Macaulay
The New York Times
July 27, 2009

cunn500-200Mr. Cunningham often spoke and wrote movingly about the nature of dance and would laugh about its maddening impermanence. “You have to love dancing to stick to it,” he once wrote. “It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”

Merce Cunningham, the revolutionary American choreographer, died Sunday night at his home in Manhattan. He was 90.

His death was announced by the Cunningham Dance Foundation.

Over a career of nearly seven decades, Mr. Cunningham went on posing “But” and “What if?” questions, making people rethink the essence of dance and choreography. He went on doing so almost to the last.

Until 1989, when he reached 70, he appeared in every single performance given by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. In 1999, at 80, though frail and holding onto a barre, he danced a duet with Mikhail Baryshnikov at the New York State Theater in Lincoln Center. In April he observed his 90th birthday with the 90-minute “Nearly Ninety” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Even when it became known that he was fading, and friends began coming to bid farewell to him in recent days, he told one colleague that he was still creating dances in his head. (more…)