Collection 1940s–1970s

Video still from Merce Cunningham. _Antic Meet_, 1958. Performed by Merce Cunningham Dance Company, 1964. Director: Arne Arnbom; Décor and Costumes: Robert Rauschenberg; Producer: Sveriges Radio Televisionen; Music: John Cage; Dancers: Carolyn Browne, Merce Cunningham, Barbara Dilley, Viola Farber, Sandra Neels, Steve Paxton. © Sveriges Television AB

Merce Cunningham. Antic Meet. 1958 708

Video still from Merce Cunningham. Antic Meet, 1958. Performed by Merce Cunningham Dance Company, 1964. Director: Arne Arnbom; Décor and Costumes: Robert Rauschenberg; Producer: Sveriges Radio Televisionen; Music: John Cage; Dancers: Carolyn Browne, Merce Cunningham, Barbara Dilley, Viola Farber, Sandra Neels, Steve Paxton. © Sveriges Television AB

THOMAS J. LAX: This is Antic Meet by Merce Cunningham. Over the course of his career, Cunningham broke with modern dance tradition and pioneered a new style that incorporated randomness, chance, everyday objects and ordinary movements. He described Antic Meet as a series of absurd situations that have nothing to do with each other.

ANA JANEVSKI: One of Cunningham’s innovations was to separate dance from music. Often the performers heard the music for the first time when they got on stage. Steve Paxton was one of the dancers in Antic Meet:

STEVE PAXTON: It's a wonderful dance comedy. It's satirical and political and very wry.

My aesthetics at that point had probably been developed by Hollywood, television. I'd seen some ballets. Cunningham was not like that. I couldn't feel his work in the way that I expected art to be “feelable.” Cunningham’s steps were not the kind of stuff that ballet uses to tell you that you’re watching a technical feat in the dancing. His didn't have that. And then the steps weren't tied to anything in particular like a story or relationship that you could count on.

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