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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Coping and Choreography


In this paper, I study the choreographic process of Merce Cunningham in order to understand better how refined kinesthetic and proprioceptive responses come to constitute the expressive matter of dance. Employing first chance operations then a software program to generate unexpected sequences of movement, Cunningham strains the coping mechanisms of his dancers to the limit. His choreography requires dancers to become experts at adapting their own sensorimotor instrument to the situation at hand. When dancers are asked to imitate the movement sequences of a computer-generated avatar, their bodies can truly be said to be “co-constructed”; they evolve muscle memories and skills that correspond to the technology with which they interact.

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