Merce Cunningham Trust

Merce Cunningham: 65 Years

by David Vaughan

Edited by Melissa Harris, Aperture Foundation and Trevor Carlson, Cunningham Dance Foundation Afterword by Bonnie Brooks

The extraordinary application for the iPad, Merce Cunningham: 65 Years, new in August and pictorially sensational, is a breakthrough achievement of combining visual and written history.” --Alastair Macaulay New York Times, December 14, 2012

Once available exclusively for the iPad, Merce Cunningham 65 Years is now available as a web application for virtually all devices. This version contains all of the media content of the original, including rare video, images and interactive content. Each chapter can also be downloaded as a PDF file with all media included.*


Introduction and Dedications


  • Forward by David Vaughan
  • Merce Cunningham on the art of Dance
  • A recorded interview with John Cage
  • An authoritative list of the dancers who performed with Cunningham



The Early Years

Cunningham's life and work through 1949:

  • Growing up in Centralia, Washington
  • Early dance training
  • The Cornish School
  • Meeting Martha Graham
  • Meeting Lincoln Kirstein
  • First joint appearances with John Cage
  • The Seasons
  • First summer at Black Mountain



The 1950s


  • Early years in New York
  • First use of chance operations
  • Cunningham’s essay ‘The Function of a Technique for Dance”
  • Cunningham reading his essay “Space, Time and Dance”
  • First performances of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company
  • Cunningham’s essay “The Impermanent Art”
  • Antic Meet



The 1960s


  • Crises
  • Aeon and the introduction of live electronic music
  • Story
  • Winterbranch
  • The 1964 World Tour
  • Variations V
  • How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run
  • RainForest



The 1970s 


  • Second Hand
  • The departure of Carolyn Brown
  • Soundance
  • Squaregame
  • Inlets
  • Charles Atlas and Locale



The 1980s


  • Channels/Inserts
  • Roaratorio
  • Pictures
  • Native Green
  • Points in Space
  • Five Stone Wind
  • August Pace





  • Cunningham discusses using a computer to choreograph in a 1990 recorded interview
  • Trackers, first work developed with computer assistance
  • Cunningham essay on "The Cunningham Technique"
  • Beach Birds
  • The death of John Cage and creation of Enter
  • Ocean
  • Cunningham on ‘How to cook a Macrobiotic Meal in a Hotel Room”
  • Cunningham on ‘Four Events that have Led to Large Discoveries”



The Final Years


  • Ground Level Overlay
  • Rondo
  • Scenario
  • Pond Way
  • Biped
  • Interscape
  • Radio Head, Sigur Rós and Split Sides
  • Eyespace
  • The Dia:Beacon Events
  • Nearly Ninety



Aperture gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Merce Cunningham: 65 Years from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Additional support has been generously provided by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

In addition, Aperture gratefully acknowledges the original support for Merce Cunningham: Fifty Years from

  • Philip Morris Companies, Inc.
  • The Elgerbead Fund
  • The Lynne and Harold Honickman Foundation
  • Barnabas McHenry
  • Marion Stroud Swingle
  • Robert A. Yellowlees
  • Tommaso Zanzotto


* Due to the limitations of PDF documents, some sections that involve text scrolling will not work. Although multimedia is embedded perfectly, a PDF is at root at print document. This limitation affects only a few of the more than 700 pages of content.