Document(s): Commence to Dancing

“Commence to Dancing” is from the Document(s) series, a library of commentary on people and issues in the dance field. This repository of essays includes interviews by writers and thinkers on dance, as well as “dance discursions,” which offer opportunities for reflection on the field of dance commissioned by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

David Vaughan served as the archivist of the Cunningham Dance Foundation and is the author of Merce Cunningham/Fifty Years (Aperture, 1997) and of Frederick Ashton and his Ballets (revised edition, Dance Books, 1999). The following article is his address to the Dance Critics Association at Dance New Amsterdam in New York City on June 17, 2007, on the occasion of his receiving the Senior Critics Award.

From the address:

“After five years I went back to England for a year, ostensibly to decide where I wanted to live, though I knew perfectly well that it was here in New York City. During that year I wrote a series of articles for Dance and Dancers about what I had seen in America. Remy Charlip showed Merce what I had written about him, and when I came back I started taking his class again, and got to know him, which led to the association that has lasted ever since. When he opened a studio of his own in December 1959, in the Living Theater building on the corner of 14th Street and Sixth Avenue, he asked me to be the studio secretary, which I was, for $15 a week. I was the whole staff at that time. I immediately started organizing the programs and clippings which Merce, in time-honored fashion, used to throw into a cardboard box when he came back from tour. In 1976 Jean Rigg, by then the company’s chief administrator, secured a pilot grant from the NEA to employ me as archivist for two years, thus formalizing what I was doing for my own interest. Here it is 30 years later, and I’m still at it. Of course my book, Merce Cunningham/Fifty Years is a project of the archives—so too is the exhibition that opened at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in June 2007, together with the NYPL Jerome Robbins Dance Division and the John Cage Trust.”

Download the article (PDF) >

Grants & Grantees

Greg “Hodari” Banks is a dancer and a 1992 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

This world premiere will integrate contingency—accident, chance, and improvisation—into the ensemble’s physical theater style, with live music by composer and Pew Fellow Bhob Rainey.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Meiyin Wang is the associate artistic producer of The Public Theater’s Under The Radar Festival and Symposium in New York, which presents new and cutting-edge theatrical work from the U.S. and abroad.

A series of discussions will be held with acclaimed French choreographer Boris Charmatz and various artists and cultural practitioners.

Challenging conventional notions of expertise, Asian Arts Initiative will invite local community advocates and homeless people to organize a contemporary art exhibition on the concepts of home and homelessness.

Grants & Grantees

FringeArts presented Australian dance company Chunky Move’s Mortal Engine, a dance piece that incorporates video, music, and laser performance with sound-initiated projections.

Grants & Grantees

Founded in 2005 by Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan, BalletX unites distinguished choreographers with a company of world-class dancers to “forge new works of athleticism, emotion, and grace.”

Grants & Grantees

Artistic Director Nichole Canuso likes to explore “dances that celebrate the awkwardness, humor and surprise in human experience.”

Grants & Grantees

Over the course of his 30-year career, percussionist and 2000 Pew Fellow Pablo Batista has performed, recorded, and toured with a range of leading jazz, R&B, Latin, pop, and gospel artists including Bono, George Howard, Alicia Keyes, Gerald Levert, Jeffrey Osborne, Eddie Palmieri, Teddy Pendergrass, Diane Reeves, Grover Washington, Jr., Musiq, Manny Oquendo’s Conjunto Libre, and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Grants & Grantees

The Kimmel Center, Inc., best known as a presenting organization and home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Ballet, is one of the most well-attended cultural venues in Philadelphia.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Cora Mirikitani is the president and CEO of the Center for Cultural Innovation, a California-based knowledge and financial services incubator for individual artists.