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) >

Collaborators & Colleagues

Judy Hussie-Taylor has served as Executive Director of Danspace Project, a New York City venue for independent experimental choreographers, since 2008. Hussie-Taylor served as a Pew Fellowships panelist in 2012 and 2013, a Performance LOI panelist in 2014, and as the Performance panel chair in 2015.

Grants & Grantees

The Franklin Institute is one of the oldest and leading centers of science education in the US.

Grants & Grantees

Living and working in Philadelphia for 25 years, 2011 Pew Fellow CAConrad’s work falls between poetics, performance, and pedagogy.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Cathy Stanton is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Tufts University and an active public historian. She served as a 2015 LOI panelist in Exhibitions & Public Interpretation.

Directing My Dancers/Directing Myself allowed Nichole Canuso to reevaluate her choreographic practice, mentoring under U.K.-based dancer Wendy Houstoun.

Pig Iron Theatre Company member Alex Torra talks about the experience of performing for Japanese audiences after premiering Zero Cost House in the United States.

Grants & Grantees

Judd Greenstein is a composer and music presenter based in Brooklyn, NY. He curates the Ecstatic Music Festival, an annual showcase of new collaborative concerts between artists from different musical worlds.

Brenda Dixon Gottschild completed research and writing for her book, which tells the story of Joan Myers Brown and the previously unwritten 20th-century dance history of black Philadelphia.

The New Year brings a multitude of Center-funded projects that innovate, inspire, and expand the possibilities of artistic discovery and expression.

Supper, People on the Move, a large-scale performance by choreographer Silvana Cardell, inspired and informed by the immigration process, will premiere in June 2015.

Pig Iron Theatre Company’s Twelfth Night, at the Abrons Art Center through February 23, has received a glowing review from the New York Times.

Grants & Grantees

Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers’ company training project furthered the development of the meditative and martial arts practices at the core of their creative process.