Cunningham dance technique

by Shiv

What is Cunningham dance technique?

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Nov 20, 2012
Maria's reply
by: Maria

Dear Shiv,

The Cunningham dance technique is the method used and developed by the American dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham (1919 – 2009).

The style of this technique is like the one of a conventional 'modern dance' training class. The training classes or 'technique classes' are different from the repertoire classes, in which dancers learn choreographies or excerpts from the choreographer's pieces.

In the Cunningham technique class, dancers repeat series of physical exercises for about one hour and a half. The exercises are executed in standing positions and make great emphasis in the mobility of the torso and trunk by executing twists, arches, tilts and curves. Cunningham's workout also strengthens the dancer's stability in different standing positions (first, second, parallel, turnout, etc.). The work for the legs is similar to the one of classical ballet but including the parallel positions.

Cunningham explained that he was always exploring with the class's exercises to find out new movement possibilities and skills: "The technique is the disciplining of one's energy through physical action in order to free that energy at any desired instant in its highest possible physical and spiritual form" ("The function of a technique for dance" M. Cunningham, 1951)

Currently, there's a lot of information on this topic at the web. You can even watch full videos that are available, like for example at the following page:

Cunningham technique – Intermediate level

There's an elementary level video for rent here:

Cunningham technique – Elementary level

Find classes here:

Cunningham technique classes

And here's an interesting informative video:



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