In the 1940s, Merce Cunningham and his life partner, composer John Cage, developed a radical new concept: music and dance could exist independently within the same performance. The dancers’ movements would no longer be tied to the rhythms, mood, and structure of music. Multiple generations of dancers learned their craft from Merce Cunningham. His rigorous and physically exacting technique explored, among other things, the idea of individual body parts operating independently of each other. He taught his dancers to question commonly held assumptions about dance and the arts, inspiring legions of students through his commitment to experimentation and risk taking. And many with whom he worked would go on to become choreographic innovators in their own right.
He has extended the definition of dance movement itself and, more significantly, rejected the traditional relationship of dance to music