Merce Cunningham Choreographic Stlye

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Analyse the choreographic style of Merce Cunningham. You should provide examples from Beach Birds for Camera and from other works by Cunningham to support your analysis. The very distinctive choreographic style that Cunningham has come to develop will have been shaped and influenced by the training he has received over the course of his career. He attended the Cornish School for formal dance and theatre training , it was here that he was introduced to a wide variety of ‘arts’ he had originally gone to study drama, but the women who ran the school, Miss Nellie Cornish said if you wanted to be in the arts you should know something about all of them. So Cunningham was trained in Drama, Dance, Music, Visual, Drawing and Diction. One obvious choreographic style of Merce Cunningham was the idea that every dancer is a soloist, they form no relationship with each other, because there is never a narrative and a story to be told, for Cunningham a dance work shouldn’t be concerned with telling a story, he didn’t believe there was anything to represent, it is purely about movement, for movement’s sake and the exploration of something beautiful. The dancers are dressed in very neutral clothing, both males and females wear virtually the same thing, he would do this to create a dance work that is asexual, meaning there is even less of a relationship created between a male and a female dancer, because they look the same, so it becomes harder for the audience to attach a relationship between them. This effectively creates a dance that is genderless, meaning that every dancer is equal in the space as well as a soloist, equality between the dancers being another key choreographic style of Cunningham’s. In the dance work Beach Birds for Camera (1992) it becomes evident that the dancers have no relationship to one another, they are purely dancers, soloists, that are gathered together sharing the same time and space, nothing more, dancers do not even share movement material, and if it so happens that the same phrase is performed by two dancers at the same time, this is completely down to chance. Throughout Part 1 of Beach Birds for Camera you can see that there aren’t specific relationships formed, even when there is a formation of a duet or a trio, which is often the case as there are two trio formations down stage right and upstage left for the majority of part one these dancers are sharing the same general space and because of how closely situated to one another they are the audience may assume that they have a relationship, however the movement material they perform is different emphasising the fact that all the dancers are soloists. Cunningham’s dance work Torse (1978) is another example of how Cunningham doesn’t create relationships between dancers, supporting this idea that dancers are soloists. Towards the end of the piece two female dancers are standing in a stationary held position, then a male dancer does movement weaving around them, as he travels towards them he lifts the first female dancer that he encounters and moves her to a different place on the stage and then places her back and she gets into her original stationary position he then continues moving and when he encounters the second female, by encounter, they start to become closer together in space rather than in general space, its more like they are starting to enter each other’s personal space, he then lifts her, and moves her in the same way. The key thing to note when he makes contact with both females there is no eye contact and when lifting the dancers he doesn’t hold them close, there doesn’t appear to be a close relationship formed, it is just movement, he lifts them as if they are in his way, like they are blocking the pathway that his movement travels along, so it is more of a necessity to move them than a want. Also throughout Part 1 of Beach birds for Camera it is clear that all the dancers are equal and this is because there is never a clear soloist, there...
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