Beyond Cunningham


Having had a little time to distance myself from our final performance and dancing Cunningham,  the question I turn to is what will stay with me after this experience.

There has been a push throughout the semester to try and define what the Cunningham style is, and what about it makes it special.  And yet in spite of this, all that is Cunningham is limited to the man and his work.  There is nothing else in the future that will be “Cunningham”. That time has past.  And even in the reconstruction of his work, or the teaching of his technique, there is always the sense of facing back towards the past. As time goes on that image of the past will undoubtedly become blurrier and blurrier until it is nearly unrecognizable.

So what is left? Where is Cunningham now? Where will he be 50 years from now?

While his work may not live beyond a certain point, the impact he has made in the dance world will never disappear.  I don’t really think I realized the magnitude of influence Cunningham has had on dance today until after being able to dance some of his work.  There have been a host of people who have called him one of the most influential figures in dance, and there have been several prominent choreographers who have cited him as an influence, but it wasn’t until embodying his work that I was able to understand the validity of those claims.  Cunningham didn’t just create dance, but a way of seeing, feeling and understanding movement.  When approaching different styles of dance, some of which I have already been familiar with, I feel my body has a whole different relationship to the movement then before.  Pieces of his work and technique have become the building blocks for the work of many choreographers today, and having had the opportunity to dance Cunningham’s work, I can feel his presence within the vocabulary of movement.