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As written in a prior post, the use of film (and video) in dance is obviously not new. Almost every major dance company has filmed their performances to be shown to a wider audience just as was done in the Merce Cunningham You Tube clip above. Major dance companies have also been featured in documentary films, such as La Dance of the Paris Opera Ballet.

The film of “La Dance” allows the viewer to go back stage with the dancers and choreographer during rehearsals for the production of seven ballets, as well as to see scenes from the performances. Now, a great leap forward has been performed by the creation of the app,”Merce Cunningham: 65 Years.”


Art Daily stated that, “Merce Cunningham: 65 Years is a dynamic multimedia app celebrating the unique legacy of the late choreographer, dancer, and artist. Cunningham’s own interest in engaging with technology was in itself a principal motivation for creating the interactive app.”

The Arpeture Foundation, publisher of the app, sites states:

“The original print publication of David Vaughan’s Merce Cunningham: Fifty Years (Aperture, 1997) chronicled the life and work of the choreographer through words, photographs, designs for sets and costumes, musical scores, choreographic notes, and much more. Often referred to as ‘the Cunningham bible,’ the original book is now transformed into a new, expanded digital edition, ‘Merce Cunningham: 65 Years,’ with new essays, journal entries by the choreographer, video excerpts, photographs, and interviews.”

“Cunningham’s pioneering incorporation of technology into his work is also revealed in the app through excerpts of his working process with Life Forms, the computer software program he used as a tool in his choreography since the 1990s. Excerpts from his collaborations with the Open Ended Group are also featured. The app itself evokes the Cage/Cunningham sensibility regarding chance and the coexistence of elements in time and space, as it provides the viewer with various choices to navigate through the collected material.”

As Julie Bloom wrote in the New York Times on August 9, 2012:

“Throughout his life Merce Cunningham came up with new ways to blend art and technology. He changed the way we think about space and time onstage, he explored dance on film before just about anyone else, and long before James Cameron and Hollywood made motion-capture cool, he was using three-dimensional computer animation to choreograph. Now, three years after his death in 2009, Cunningham is again at the vanguard. On Friday the Aperture Foundation is to introduce its first interactive application for the iPad, ‘Merce Cunningham: 65 Years.’”


In her article, Julie Bloom also wrote that the App “is both a comprehensive primary source and a multimedia buffet — what its creators see as a model for how performing artists can share their art through technology.”

The app is a great use of the technology of the New Media, not only to make art accessible, but to use the New Media technology to show aspects of art not accessible by the traditional means. Will it actually replace going to an actual dance performance? Absolutely not. But it will increase the viewers knowledge of the entire artistic process and interest in experiencing the actual performances.

The app is available at the app Store.

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