Last year at this time, we were heading into high-intensity mode for the planning and execution of Merce Cunningham’s Ocean, a monumental dance performance that took place in September in a granite quarry outside St. Cloud. It was an ambitious and unusual undertaking even for this giant of modern dance, and for the Walker as well. Those amazing performances were fitting for what would become Merce’s final presentation with the Walker, where he has performed since 1963, premiering several works here and acting as an artist-in-residence nine times.
Needless to say, this morning we were deeply saddened to hear of his passing. We hope that fans who’ve seen Merce’s work here over nearly five decades will post comments in remembrance. In the meantime, over on Eyeteeth, our friend and former Walker blogger Paul Schmelzer has some commentary about “the genuine Merce” and a wonderful, touching account of Walker photographer Cameron Wittig shooting the portrait above. The New York Times has an exceptional video-obituary with its dance critic Alastair Macaulay, and we’ve got two great interviews with Merce from our Walker Channel archives: Chance Conversations: An Interview with Merce Cunningham and John Cage and Merce Cunningham: Talking Dance.