July 27th, 2009 5:33 pm | by KELLY CLARKE News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Goodbye Merce Cunningham


A sad day for the world of dance, as we say goodbye to the one and only Merce Cunningham. The lauded choreographer died last night at the age of 90.

NYT's Alastair Macaulay captures the giant of chance-dance up nicely with this:
Mr. Cunningham ranks with Isadora Duncan, Serge Diaghilev, Martha Graham and George Balanchine in making people rethink the essence of dance and choreography, posing a series of “But” and “What if?” questions over a career of nearly seven decades.

He went on doing so almost to the last. Until 1989, when he reached the age of 70, he appeared in every single performance given by his company, 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. And in 2009, even after observing his 90th birthday with the world premiere of the 90-minute “Nearly Ninety,” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music he went on choreographing for his dancers, telling people as they went to say farewell to him that he was still creating dances in his head.

Portlanders were lucky enough to see the Merce Cunningham Dance Company perform when White Bird brought the company and its famously curious choreographer to town in 2004 for a truly fascinating show. (Check out the preview I wrote for that show way back then.) Watching his dancers play, challenge and humor each other up on stage, moving with all the force and vitality of Mr. Cunningham himself, makes one understand that this is a man whose work will live on forever.

Check out the New York Times' full obit for more details about the choreographers life, as well as photos and video.
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