#LetUsLessonPlanForYou: A Cunningham Warm-Up and the Man Behind the Technique

Former Cunningham dancer Gus Solomons jr includes this exercise in his warm-up, following an initial 10 minutes of floor work. The combination's constant plié-and-rise dynamic is designed to help students find the ease and weight of the pelvis. As in Cunningham technique, the top of the body moves independently from the bottom half.

Want to know more about the man behind the technique that bears his name?

Cunningham Technique

Combining a pronounced use of the legs from ballet with modern's strong emphasis on the torso, Merce Cunningham named five positions of the back: upright, curve, arch, twist, tilt. His codified, repetitive warm-up exercises and quick direction changes help develop coordination, strength and flexibility, particularly in the spine.

The Legacy Lives On

Cunningham's work exists in the repertory of many companies, including the Paris Opéra Ballet, Boston Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Notable alumni include original company members Paul Taylor and the late Viola Farber, postmodern choreographers Douglas Dunn and Gus Solomons jr, Karole Armitage (known as the “punk ballerina") and of the most recent company, contemporary collaborators Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener. Cunningham stipulated that after his death his company would perform an extended world tour and then dissolve. Today, the Merce Cunningham Trust serves as the custodian of his work. Weekday classes take place at New York City Center Studios.

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