Master Dance Class

Two art giants passed this week: the choreographer Merce Cunningham and the writer Frank McCourt. Both found their outlets in dance–Cunningham with a vision of seeing bodies as movement in space and McCourt through literature which he referred to as “the dancing words.” As true artists both were inventive. Merce Cunningham incorporated dissonant elements in his dance forms such as the element of chance. He likened the I Jing, The Book of Changes, as reading one’s fortune and accepting the roll of the die and played with the dance forms that appeared as if by chance. Frank McCourt, ever the storyteller, could invent “on his feet” often taking an unintentional cue from his interviewer and developing it into an idea on the spot. When asked what his favorite pickup line was he replied “Would you like to have adventures?” That worked? Sometimes–they were amused but I don’t think enchanted. Are you single? he asked turning the tables on the interviewer. “I’m married. She’s immune.” to which McCourt replied jocularly “Marriage is a process of gaining immunity.” I recall a fascinating anecdote from Cunningham. He was on tour with his company and ready to leave the hotel at 8:00 a.m. but was delayed 2 hours because the bus had broken down and needed repairs. All packed with nothing to do, he sat at the desk and started to draw a tree outside the window on the hotel pad of paper. Another knock on the door and a man inquired ready to go, Mr Cunningham? I thought you said we weren’t leaving until 10:00 a.m.? It is 10:00 a.m. Cunningham realized that he was so engrossed in his drawing that he was unaware of the passage of time. From then on, he drew every morning to stay nimble in both hand and mind by feeding his imagination.
See article in Obit magazine on both these master artists:
For full interview by Daniel Asa Rose

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