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Merce Cunningham and the Modernizing of Modern Dance is a complete study of the life and work of this seminal choreographer/dancer. More than just a biography, Copeland explores Cunningham's life story against a backdrop of an entire century of developments in American art. Copeland traces his own experience of Cunningham's dances-from the turbulent late '60s through the experimental works of the '80s and '90s-showing how Cunningham moved dance away from the highly emotional, subjective work of Martha Graham to a return to a new kind of classicism. This book places Cunningham in the forefront of an artistic revolution, a revolution that has its parallels in music (John Cage, and the minimalist composers who followed him), painting (Jaspar Johns, Robert Rauschenberg), theater (the happenings of the '60s), and dance itself (the Judson School of dancers). An iconclastic and highly readable analysis, this book will be enjoyed by all those interested in the development of the American arts in the 20th century.
Roger Copeland is Professor of Theater and Dance at Oberlin College. He is coeditor of the widely used anthology What is Dance? His essays about dance, theater, and film have appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, The Village Voice, and many other publications including The Encyclopedia of Dance and Ballet.