I spent the whole of Saturday at Stanford University taking in Encounter: Merce, the campus-wide celebration of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company?s residency, for the Chronicle:
“Call it a Merce Immersion: For a week it seemed you couldn’t step outside Stanford’s main quad without bumping into giddy computer-music students or seeing that playful Cunningham visage on a poster advertising “Encounter: Merce,” the university’s largest-ever multidisciplinary project.
The campus buzzed with anatomy classes analyzing Cunningham’s famously challenging, torso-torquing movement; discussions of his company’s beginnings at the free-spirited Black Mountain College; and a Cunningham-inspired “happening” at which, alas, not a whole lot happened.
There was so much to wrap your head around: The way that Cunningham freed dance from dependency on musical structure; pioneered the use of chance techniques alongside his late partner John Cage; and created a way of moving in which any step could follow from any other. But not even the most overwhelmed of Cunningham novices could fail to smell the heady whiff of liberation in the air Saturday as the dance company’s residence built to a climax.”