Interview ​with ​Erdem ​Helvacioglu


Dance great Cunningham dies at 90

A statement from the Cunningham Dance Foundation said the New
York-based dancer “died peacefully in his home of natural causes” on

He formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1953 and choreographed nearly 200 works for it.

Although he used a wheelchair by the end of his career, Cunningham danced on stage well into his 80s.

‘Kind and hospitable’

statement said he “revolutionised the visual and performing arts, not
for the sake of iconoclasm, but for the beauty and wonder that lay in
exploring new possibilities”.

Radiohead have paid tribute to the dance star, calling him “kind and hospitable”.

In a statement posted on their website, the band said: “We are very sad to hear about Merce Cunningham’s death.

“Merce invited us to take part in his Split Sides project, in October 2003.

Steve Schifferes
Steve Schifferes, BBC News reporter

studied the Cunningham technique as a student at Bennington College in
Vermont with many of his key disciples, and later briefly took some
classes with Cunningham at his Westbeth studio in New York’s Greenwich

Cunningham was mesmerising in person and as a dancer –
especially the expressiveness of his gestures, with his feet almost as
expressive as his hands.

His technique, involving loosening up
the lower back and making movement more free-flowing, was a relief to
those who studied the tensed movements of his previous mentor, the
great modern dancer Martha Graham, whose story-telling approach to
dance he also rejected.

“It was a collaboration of music and dance, but one where each of
the elements – set, costume, choreography and music – were randomly
combined, to create a performance around chance.”

They added
that Cunningham had showed them how “discipline and focus can create
the space for an unexpected moment, when something new can suddenly
exist: such a contrast to the scripted world of rock”.

‘Great artist’

Fishman, chairman of the Cunningham Dance Foundation, said: “Merce was
an artistic maverick and the gentlest of geniuses.

“We have
lost a great man and a great artist, but we celebrate his extraordinary
life, his art, and the dancers and the artists with whom he worked.”

April, Cunningham celebrated his 90th birthday with the premiere of new
work Nearly Ninety – set to new music from Led Zeppelin’s John Paul
Jones and Sonic Youth – at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in New York.

Last month, Cunningham set up The Living Legacy Plan, aimed at continuing his teachings in the future.

part of the plan, Cunningham’s work is to celebrated by his company
with a two-year world tour culminating in a final performance in New

Toss of coin

Born just after World War I in a small town near Seattle, Cunningham loved to dance as a child.

1939 to 1945, he was a soloist in the company of Martha Graham,
regarded at the time as one of the foremost pioneers of modern dance.

presented his first New York solo concert in April 1944, with music
from composer John Cage, who became his life partner and frequent
collaborator until Cage’s death in 1992.

Merce Cunningham

Cunningham formed his own dance company in 1953

In a radical move, the couple decided to end the traditional
marriage of movement and music, saying that both arts should exist
independently even when sharing the same space.

Cunningham also abandoned conventional storytelling through ballet to focus entirely on the poetry of dance.

even tossed coins or threw dice to determine steps, saying the use of
chance was “a present mode of freeing my imagination from its own

He was hugely admired by other dancers and worked with visual artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol.

Cunningham’s work has been presented by the New York City Ballet, Zurich Ballet and the Rambert Dance Company among others.

the accolades he received over his long career included the Kennedy
Center Honors in 1985 and the National Medal of Arts in 1990.

Percussionist Max Neuhaus who revolutionized sound art dies

By DOUGLAS BRITT Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
Feb. 3, 2009, 4:12PM

Max Neuhaus exhibited his Soundwork and Circumscription Drawings at the Menil in 2008

Max Neuhaus, a percussionist with Houston ties who pioneered a field of contemporary art known as sound installation, died Tuesday of cancer at his home in Marina di Maratea, Italy. He was 69.
Josef Helfenstein, director of the Menil Collection, described Neuhaus as a sculptor who worked with nonmusical sound instead of traditional materials such as clay or steel. Neuhaus’ second permanent U.S. museum piece, Sound Figure, was installed at the Menil in May.
“He is really part of that generation who changed art in the 1960s,” Helfenstein said. “What he did is very radical, actually. … He managed to define space with sound.”
Born in Beaumont in 1939, Neuhaus began performing as a percussionist when he was 14. He graduated from Lamar High School in 1957 and trained at the Manhattan School of Music. During the 1960s, he performed solo recitals of contemporary music by composers such as John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen at a time when it was rare for a percussionist to be a soloist.
“It’s a little more common now, but there were only three of us in the world at that time, and I did my first recital in 1964 and became well-known while I was still in my 20s,” Neuhaus told the Houston Chronicle in May. “But at a certain point, I started having these other ideas. I tried to do both at the same time, but … the better musician I was, the more people were convinced that what I was doing (with experiments in sound installation) was music, so to speak. So in a way, I had to commit career suicide as a musician.”
Neuhaus said he didn’t have the courage to walk away from music until after Columbia Masterworks contacted him about recording his repertoire, preserving what he thought was his best work. That 1968 solo album is considered an early example of live electronic music.
“I made the record and went out the back,” he said. “They never forgave me, of course — along with a lot of other people.”
Having achieved early fame as a performer, Neuhaus turned to an anonymous form of expression, embedding sound into environments as unlikely as New York’s Times Square or a Brooklyn, N.Y., subway station. He was secretive about his techniques and left no speakers visible.
First installed in 1977, Times Square was disconnected in 1992 and reactivated in 2002. As was his custom, Neuhaus did not label the piece, wanting people to discover it for themselves.
Menil spokesman Vance Muse lived in New York from 1984 to 1994 and walked through Neuhaus’ sound piece on his way to work every day.
“Like most New Yorkers, I thought for a long time it was the beautiful sound of the subway groaning and moaning,” Muse said. “Then an artist friend told me what it was, and it became a wonderful place to meet on the way to dinner or the theater — standing in that Times Square traffic island.”
Helfenstein described a similar experience while visiting Neuhaus in Marina di Maratea, where the artist moved in 2006.
“He used his house and garden always as a laboratory for his work,” Helfenstein said. “Once, he didn’t tell me anything. I just walked around the garden, and I walked into a sound. … And I stepped one foot to the right, and the sound was gone. It was like an invisible cube but formed by sound.”
Neuhaus’ friendship with Menil founder Dominique de Menil began in the early 1970s at a New York dinner party, which she interrupted by ordering 10 limousines to take her guests to Brooklyn to visit Walkthrough, the subway-station piece that was installed from 1973 to 1977.
“She was always very supportive,” Neuhaus said of de Menil, who died in 1997. “For a long time, it was very hard to find the wherewithal to keep going with these works, which you couldn’t sell, which there were no drawings for (until years later), and she was always there at the last minute.”
Neuhaus’ art-world recognition grew, however, and his sound pieces included permanent works for Dia: Beacon in New York; Landesmuseum Joanneum in Graz, Austria; Documenta 9 in Kassel, Germany; and the Castello di Rivoli, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Turin, Italy; as well as ephemeral installations for the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1979 and the 1999 Venice Biennale.
In 1989 Neuhaus began producing what he called “circumscription drawings” of his sound works to address the problem of “finding a way to publish without destroying the work.”
Curated by Helfenstein, Max Neuhaus: Circumscription Drawings was on view May through August at the Menil to coincide with the unveiling of Sound Figure, which was permanently installed at the museum’s north entrance.
“It’s almost like going through a shower — purifying, in a way — before you enter (the museum),” Helfenstein said of walking through the installation.
Neuhaus has been represented by Lawrence Markey Gallery in San Antonio since 2002. He is survived by his wife, Sylvia Neuhaus; their daughter, Claudia; and his sister, Laura Hansen, of Sanibel, Fla.
Arrangements for a memorial service are pending.