Cunningham in the Northwest

A native of Centralia, Merce Cunningham started his career at Cornish, where he was a student in the 1930s, and it's Cornish that is one of the first sites for this new phase of his legacy. Prior to his death, Cunningham (1919-2009) announced a plan for after he was gone. Unlike choreographers such as Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, or José Limon, he would not have his namesake dance company continue in perpetuity. Instead, he said, the group would make a single farewell tour and then disband. There would be no attempt to keep his works together in an active repertory—instead, they might be taught in schools, or studied on video, or performed in what he called minEvents. In Cornish's Main Gallery, you'll find archival photos of Cunningham as a student, as well as set designs and stage props, like those for Andy Warhol's Silver Clouds—delicate Mylar balloons used in the 1968 dance Rain Forest, performed around the world by the Cunningham company during multiple tours. Composer/musicians Stuart Dempster and Trimpin, who both collaborated with Cunningham, will perform at various times in the gallery. SANDRA KURTZ

Mondays-Fridays. Starts: Sept. 7. Continues through Oct. 22, 2010

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