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Podcast: Merce Cunningham

Cunningham is perhaps the choreographer who forces us most to rethink what dance is and is not.
Dr Hélène Neveu Kringelbach 

Merce Cunningham was one of the greatest American dance artists and choreographers of the 20th century. Over the course of his 70-year career, Cunningham’s passion for innovation revolutionised modern dance, while his collaborations with artists, composers, filmmakers and designers expanded the poetics of music, performance, and contemporary art. Ahead of the 100th anniversary of Cunningham’s birth, a panel consisting of former New York Times Chief Dance Critic Alastair Macaulay, Dr Hélène Neveu Kringelbach and Dr Arabella Stanger met to discuss his extraordinary life and legacy, in a discussion chaired by Professor Susan Jones.

I’ve always found that each of his works is some kind of play and creates its own world.” – Alastair Macaulay

The Merce Cunningham Trust has digitally preserved dance capsules of some of the performances mentioned in this podcast, listed below in order of appearance:

Ocean, 1994

Changing Steps, 1973

Enter, 1992

Doubles, 1984


Susan Jones is Professor of English Literature, University of Oxford. Alastair Macaulay is the Former Chief Dance Critic for the New York Times. Dr Hélène Neveu Kringelbach is Senior Lecturer in African Studies, UCL. Dr Arabella Stanger is Lecturer in Drama: Theatre and Performance, University of Sussex.