Five College Consortium

Five College Dance Department



Merce Cunningham
The Five College Dance Department embarks on an historic repertory project this fall: the restaging of Merce Cunningham’s renowned choreographic collage, MinEVENT, on 20 advanced, five college dancers. This project is especially timely, as it coincides with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s final international Legacy Tour - the company will officially disband in January. Performances by two different casts of FCDD dancers will take place at a variety of venues throughout the fall, and will include original collaborations with five college costume, set, digital design and sound design artists. MinEVENT is an abbreviated version EVENT, Cunningham's signature, site-specific work. Its many iterations over four decades incorporated excerpts from a diverse range of repertory, and were presented at unconventional performance spaces such as museums and galleries. For this project, long-time company member Banu Ogan, has chosen to restage excerpts from 4 dances spanning 4 decades of Cunningham repertory, including: Scramble (1967), Un jour ou deux (1973), Fielding Sixes (1980), and Scenario (1997). This project is funded by an American Masterpieces grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Five Colleges, Inc and the dance programs of the Five College Dance Department.

Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) was a leader of the American avant-garde throughout his seventy-year career and is considered one of the most important choreographers of our time. With an artistic career distinguished by constant innovation, Cunningham expanded the frontiers not only of dance, but also of contemporary visual and performing arts. His collaborations with artistic innovators from every creative discipline have yielded an unparalleled body of American dance, music, and visual art. As Roger Copeland writes in his recent book, Merce Cunningham: The Modernizing of Modern Dance:

“No one has revised “the fundamentals” more fundamentally than Merce Cunningham; for example: the relationship between movement, music and rhythm; the way choreographic time can transfigure an audience’s perception of space; the evolution of a codifiable technique that forges fresh connections between the dancer’s head, back, pelvis, legs, and feet (resulting in an unprecedented rapprochement between ballet and modern dance); compositional practices based on the use of “chance operations,” (producing new strategies for linking together disparate phrases of movement); a radical reenvisioning of which locations on a proscenium stage are most likely to command an audience’s attention – this list could go on and on. No other choreographer has challenged as many “givens”, paved as many new pathways, opened as many doors.”

Calendar of Events:

September 30 (Friday) Site Performance: 4 and 4:30pm, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College (free)

October 22 (Saturday) Site Performance: 1:30p Atrium/Ford Hall, Smith College (free)

November 10-12 Performances: 8pm Mount Holyoke College Faculty Concert, Studio Theater/Kendall, Mount Holyoke College. Reservations and information: 413-538-2848 or

November 18 (Friday) Lecture: "Dancing With Merce" by Gus Solomons, Theatre 14, Smith College (free)

November 17-19 Performances: 8pm Smith College Faculty Concert, Theater 14, Smith College. Reservations and information: 413-585-2787 or

December 2, 3 Performances: Fri/8pm; Sat/2 and 8pm, University Dancers Concert, Bowker Auditorium, UMass/Amherst. Reservations and information:

December 9, 10 Performances: 8pm, Performance Project, Holden Theatre, Amherst College. Reservations and information: 413-542-2277

Online resources:

Merce Cunningham Dance Company main site
Cunninghan on EVENTS

Excerpt from Points in Space