Wednesday, July 29, 2009

To be Alive

Merce Cunningham, the greatest living choreographer in the world, just died, age 90.
When he was 80 he danced a duet with Mikhail Baryshnikov. When he could no longer move his arthritic feet he would make up dances in his head. And so eloquently he said this about dance: 'You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscript to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.' I think of Charlotte when I think of him.


  1. Janet, this is so touching. Do you know, that I took a master class from him long, long ago? I was really young, and I was intimidated by his intensity and his direction. I'd only really studied classical ballet, and his style threw me. I had to "grow up" to get him. Dance was such a big part of my life. Letting it go was really painful. I'd wanted to be a dancer...I still dream about it. So this comment of yours is like medicine on an old wound. Maybe what it's about is not what you're doing, but that you're doing it with passion and completeness. Thank you for posting this.

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  4. Charly, I just wrote a bit back about your grace and the way you walk and stand in first position (2nd? 16th?) and how when I think of you I always think of that. Your ballet body. Your dancer's stance. But I didn't know you took classes from him, or have forgotten it completely. How amazing. His beauty must have been very inspiring. His face was something wonderful to look at.
    To me he always just felt like you. He and Martha Graham and Balanchine and Tanaquil Le Clercq.