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Merce Cunningham at Dartmouth

Hood Quarterly, autumn 2007
Kristin Monahan Garcia, Curatorial Assistant for Academic and Student Programming

This past April, the Hood Museum of Art joined the campus-wide celebration of the Montgomery Endowment’s residency of dance pioneers Pilobolus with the exhibition Pilobolus Comes Home: Three Decades of Dance Photographs. The photographs displayed in the exhibition, works of art in their own right, reinforced the connection between choreography and art.

This fall, these connections will be made anew when Merce Cunningham, one of the world’s most renowned living choreographers, comes to Dartmouth as a Montgomery Fellow. Mr. Cunningham will be honored by the Hood this October as the subject of the Dr. Allen W. Root Contemporary Art Distinguished Lecture, as well as with an outdoor exhibition of a Cunningham dance film.

Merce Cunningham began choreographing independently after five years as a soloist in the Martha Graham Dance Company, founding his own company in 1953. Like Pilobolus, Mr. Cunningham used art as an inspiration and springboard for creative experimentation through collaborations that greatly impacted both dance and art history. His artistic partnerships will be illuminated by Bonnie Clearwater, Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, in the public Dr. Allen W. Root lecture “Dancing on the Cutting Edge: Merce Cunningham” on Wednesday, October 10, at 5:30 p.m. in the Loew Auditorium.

During Mr. Cunningham’s residency, the Hood Museum of Art will project video footage of Channels/Inserts, a dance film produced by the Cunningham Dance Foundation in 1982, onto a wall in the Bedford Courtyard. Literally connecting Cunningham’s work with the museum, the Hood hopes this unconventional projection will provide an appropriate framework and backdrop for the residency of a truly iconic dancer, visionary, and choreographer.

The Merce Cunningham Dance Company will hold performances at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 5, and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 6, in the Moore Theater of Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center.These performances will premiere XOVER, a work that has been co-commissioned by the Hopkins Center and will feature costumes by Robert Rauschenberg and music by John Cage.The Montgomery Fellow Lecture,“In Conversation with Merce Cunningham,” will be held on Wednesday, October 3, at 7:00 p.m. in Moore Theater (free and open to the public).A reception will follow in the Top of the Hop.

Mr. Cunningham’s Montgomery Fellowship is made possible by the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Endowment, and the company’s residency has received substantial support from the Marion and Frederick Whittemore 1953 Distinguished Artist Series Fund at the Hopkins Center.

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