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The Cunningham costume: the unitard in-between sculpture and painting

Julie Perrin 1 
1 Danse, geste et corporéité
MUSIDANSE - Esthétique, musicologie, danse et création musicale
Abstract : “Merce has never cared very much about costumes (…). Rarely did the dance steps get made with any thought about what the costumes might be. Anyone designing costumes for Merce had to work within very strict limitations; the nearly inflexible rule was: body unencumbered, body visible.” Carolyn Brown, dancer for Cunningham from 1952 to 72, underlines here a fundamental element of the choreographer’s esthetic: his pieces rest first of all on physical exploration and his number one concern is to make the moving body visible. However, what does it mean to make the body visible? If all the dynamic, visual, plastic, and sound elements of a choreographic work align to facilitate the apparition of the dancing subject, and if Cun­ningham had particularly oriented his research towards the invention of a technique leading to clarity of gesture, what role does the costume have to play in that construction? Is it so negligible that Cunningham did not care, as Carolyn Brown suggests? There is always one piece among the many created by Cunningham to contradict all affirmations concer­ning it. Because no dogmatism underlies his work, all synthesis of said work is set for failure.
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Submitted on : Thursday, October 31, 2019 - 9:04:52 AM
Last modification on : Monday, July 5, 2021 - 6:02:48 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Saturday, February 1, 2020 - 12:49:21 PM


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  • HAL Id : hal-02293712, version 1


Julie Perrin. The Cunningham costume: the unitard in-between sculpture and painting. 2019. ⟨hal-02293712⟩



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