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Merce CunninghamAfter the Arbitrary$
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Carrie Noland

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226541105

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226541389.001.0001

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The Body in Writing

(p.39) (2) Summerspace
Merce Cunningham

Carrie Noland

University of Chicago Press

This chapter traces the process that led to the construction of the dance phrases constituting the "score" for Summerspace (1958). Cunningham began by identifying "imperfections" on a piece of paper; he then produced from them spatial trajectories that in turn generate duets. My analysis of Cunningham's massive "paperwork" reveals that the dance phrases are indebted not only to the permutations chance procedures can elicit but also the inflections the body can make. In conclusion, I show how his use of inscription technologies evolves through an analysis of Biped (1999). Both dances start with chance-generated instructions but evolve into lyrical homages to emotive capacities of human beings.

Keywords:   Summerspace, chance-generated, dance phrases, inscription, Biped, inscription technology, duets, spatial trajectories

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