The series begins with footage of an EVENT rehearsal and performance at Dia:Beacon in the Riggio Galleries (Sol Lewitt and Richard Chamberlain room); Merce teaching an advanced technique class to members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in the Studio at Westbeth, the historic building in New York City’s West Village that is home to the company; and a Mondays with Merce interview with Merce Cunningham.
Holley Farmer, a member of the Company for more than a decade, on dancing for Merce. Footage of her signature solo from Cunningham’ s Loosetime performed in front of a Robert Rauschenberg backdrop as part of a “ MinEvent.” Film from the Mondays with Merce Film Library of Merce teaching the company, and an interview in which Merce answers the question, "Does Dance Need Music?" Last, with Sigur Rós and Radiohead performing original scores, Cunningham’ s Split Sides, in an excerpt from a film of that dance by Charles Atlas.
Rehearsals of the Company conducted by Merce, and archival performance footage of Cunningham's Sounddance. With décor by Mark Lancaster and score by David Tudor. Merce talks about choreographing the work in New York with his own company, after working in Paris with the Opera Ballet. Robert Swinston reflects on performing Merce's original role in the piece. Special sequences from Merce’s Advanced Technique Class show the connections between class and repertory.
Featuring Mondays with Merce interviews with Merce Cunningham and the innovative Streb, the "extreme action" choreographer. Discover surprising correspondences between these very different artists, and enjoy Elizabeth Streb's special insights into Merce's world. Including historic film of three Streb works - "Airlines," "Ricochet," and "Revolution," and a segment of Cunningham's BIPED with décor incorporating projections of motion capture by Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar, and lighting by Aaron Copp.
A virtual visit to Westbeth, the grand old building which houses The Merce Cunningham Dance Studio. Merce teaches “company class.” His longtime accompanist Pat Richter steps out from behind her piano to share insights on Merce’s unique musicality. From the Cunningham Archive, the archivist David Vaughan fills you in on the studio’s back story. Company member Rashaun Mitchell opens up about the intricacies of taking class with Merce and reveals the secret to jumping.
What is it like to perform as yourself—in choreography made with no story line, and no matching music? In this webisode dancers Julie Cunningham and Daniel Madoff discuss how it feels to perform, as you watch them perform an Event set in the Bruce Nauman bleachers at Dia: Beacon. With an historical excerpt from the 1960 work Crises, and more recent footage of BIPED. Also, a Mondays with Merce interview with Merce Cunningham, and our footage of Merce teaching class.
All about Events, Merce Cunningham’s unique amalgams of excerpts from diverse pieces from across his repertory. There have been more than 800 Cunningham Events around the globe. See Merce rehearsing site-specific performances at the Dia:Beacon Museum, with excerpts from our location shoots incorporating the works of Dan Flavin, Sol Lewitt, Richard Serra, John Chamberlain, Bruce Nauman, and Imi Knoebel. We reveal the Event-making process, and time travel with an historical photo-montage including images of Merce himself dancing.
Join us at the Merce Cunningham Studio on July 27, 2009, as friends gather in Merce's memory. See footage from our Mondays with Merce Film Library, including rare glimpses of Merce at work during his last summer. Mondays with Merce has been privileged to film more than 300 hours of Merce in conversation, in rehearsal with his company, and teaching class. We draw from this resource to illustrate some “fundamentals,” and prepare, as Merce often said, "to begin again.”
With guest artist Neil Greenberg, a noted post-modern choreographer, a master teacher, and a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1979-1986. Here he talks about seeing the company for the first time; about dancing for Merce; and about Merce's influence on his own life and work. In Mondays with Merce interview excerpts, Merce himself talks about the challenges of being a choreographer-performer. See Neil in film of his work and in Cunningham’s Channels/Inserts and Coast Zone.
With guest artist Mark Morris. About two choreographers who held each other in high esteem, despite, as Merce says, "thinking differently.” In his office at The Dance Center, Mark Morris muses on his long experience of Cunningham's work, sharing some personal remembrances. In turn, we show Merce discussing Mark Morris, and his particular affection for the Morris version of “The Nutcracker” called “The Hard Nut” We illustrate with an excerpt of the “Snow Scene” from the film of that dance.
The legendary dancer-actress and former company member performs a Cunningham technique exercise for the Mondays with Merce cameras. Both Merce and Valda recall their dancing days together, and we show them in historic film. Including Cunningham’s Walkaround Time, with design by Jasper Johns after Marcel Duchamp, and music by David Behrman; and his Winterbranch, with design by Robert Rauschenberg and music by La Monte Young. Also Merce performing his solo from RainForest, with design by Andy Warhol and music by David Tudor.
Conversations with Merce Cunningham from the MwM Film Library, newly discovered film of Merce teaching class in Chicago in 1961, and footage of Merce teaching Advanced Technique Class almost 50 years later. Company dancers describe what it was like to learn from Merce, and current Director of Choreography Robert Swinston reads Merce's own words on the "function of a technique." We conclude with our first screening of footage of the Event at Rockefeller Park on August 1, 2009.
We begin with a section of Merce himself discussing revivals. Guests include stager Patricia Lent; designer Mark Lancaster; and Neil Greenberg, who danced in the original, and saw the revival’s premiere. See archival film of Merce and the original cast; archival photos of composer John Cage and the Irish musicians who joined him in performance. Finally, see excerpts of the revival premiere filmed by the Mondays with Merce team at the Los Angeles Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall; Frank Gehry, architect.
Choreographer, dancer, writer—the multifaceted Gus Solomons, Jr. talks about leaving Martha Graham to dance for Merce Cunningham, explicates the Cunningham work process and method, and discusses Merce as a model for perseverance in performance. Also featuring Sandra Neels, his dancing partner in the company, with archival footage of Cunningham coaching them in Scramble (1967). In addition, see Cunningham and Solomons in excerpts from RainForest (1968), with decor by Andy Warhol. We open the episode with Merce himself discussing Martha Graham, with film of her solo in Frontier (1935), and conclude with current film of Solomons, the artistic director of the Paradigm Dance Ensemble, in a solo by Wally Cardona.
With newly available archival film and photography of John Cage and David Tudor, this webisode also introduces to the series composer-musicians Christian Wolff and Gordon Mumma in recent interviews. Merce Cunningham talks about both Cage and Tudor, as artists and individuals. We include rare footage of John Cage playing his infamous "silent piece," 4'33", in Harvard Square and a first look at new footage of Cunningham's RainForest (1968) filmed by Mondays with Merce at the Mossovet Theater in Moscow in June 2011 under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State and the Chekhov Festival.
The series concludes with a unique episode showing the last twenty minutes of Merce Cunningham's final interview. He answers questions including "What did dancing mean to you?" "Should dance last?" and "How is it that your dances are so passionate?" in this final conversation for the series, filmed at the Cunningham Studio at Westbeth.
Mondays with Merce has been made possible, in part, by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation, Pamela and Richard Kramlich, The New York Community Trust - Wallace Special Projects Fund, and the Rockefeller Foundation New York City Cultural Innovation Fund. Special thanks to the Bay Area Video Coalition and the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation at NYU, and AudioVisual Preservation Solutions for their partnership in establishing this program