Merce Cunningham opened the world for those who worked with him and for countless people around the world who experienced that work. The influence he wielded with Cage and Rauschenberg and other major artists is well-documented, but I do not think he was much moved by his own reputation. Merce was really all about the day-to-day dedication to excellence and the attention to the details of the moment. Today’s work always trumped yesterday’s. Over the years his company and his studio provided incredibly rich opportunities to thousands of dancers, musicians, artists, teachers, administrators, designers, and technicians. I had the good fortune to make music in class at Merce’s studio for more than 16 years. It was a daily opportunity to dig deep into my own wellspring; to turn over the rocks in my soul and make something useful out of whatever I found underneath. Horrible failure and mysterious beauty happening all at the same time, and often I couldn’t tell which was which. Merce’s work was like that: profound and baffling, immediate and cool, irritating and sublime, enigmatic and pedestrian. Often all at once. He made us think different, see different, hear different, and feel different. We will not forget.
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