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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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Buddhism in the Theatre

Buddhism in the Theatre

(p.173) (7) Buddhism in the Theatre
Merce Cunningham

Carrie Noland

University of Chicago Press

The concluding chapter addresses question of relationality in the context of Cunningham's relationship to Cage. Beginning with an analysis of Cage's Water Walk (1959) and the Zen Buddhist principles that inspired it, I offer a fresh account of the difference between Cage's and Cunningham's appropriations of Zen Buddhism through a close reading of Cunningham's unpublished lectures and workshop notes. Cunningham taught his students how to create encounters via the chance sequencing of movements, then asked them to explore how such encounters "affected" and "altered" the movements involved. Finally, I study the Dialogue, a genre that Cunningham and Cage performed together throughout their careers. Never seriously treated by scholars, the Dialogue offers an important example of how the two artists managed to theatricalize and queer their intimate relationship.

Keywords:   relationality, John Cage, Water Walk, Zen Buddhist, appropriation, the Dialogue, theatricalize, queer

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