I joined this project because a past teacher of mine was a Merce Cunningmham fanatic, and I figured that it would be worthwhile to spend a semester getting to know his work personally – not to mention a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with his company members and choreography.
Along the way this semester, I was struck by the sheer number of other Merce Cunningham fanatics I came across: those who were absolutely in love with his work. One of them wowed me by saying that she found nothing more interesting than Merce’s work, and that she has spent the past 40-or-so years watching it at every chance she got.
And hearing this, I was impressed. I certainly appreciated Merce Cunningham’s body of work, his innovations, et cetera; I did not, however, have that visceral connection to the material myself. I just trusted that this was somehow meaningful, and went along with it all.
Then, the day after our lecture-demonstration, I ran into one of my best friends on the middle of campus, and she told me that she loved the performance. I thanked her, appreciating her support; but it didn’t end there. She told me how weird and beautiful she found it all – it was “living art,” she said, with so much to experience, and so much that was just truly interesting. The control of the dancers, the abililty to enjoy the shapes and bodies…
And I was so amazed to hear her say this, because this is was exactly what I had learned intellectually to be true about Merce’s work, and there she was feeling it as an instinctive response to the work. To know that our demonstration prompted that response from her made me know that this work is in fact worthwhile, that it is meaningful, that it is important, that it is beautiful. And to have been a part of it was, well, incredible.