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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 25, 2011

Hancher presents final tour of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company

Hancher will present "The Legacy Tour" of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU) on the University of Iowa campus. Because Hancher is known nationally and internationally as a major presenter of dance, Iowa City will join select cities worldwide in the presentation of the final tour of this intriguing, influential and innovative dance company.

Merce Cunningham was a pioneer of modern dance and a major contributor during the avant-garde movement in the United States. He began his professional career in 1939 with the renowned Martha Graham Dance Company, forming his own company in 1953. He frequently collaborated with prominent artists in music and the visual arts including John Cage, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.

Cunningham died in 2009, leaving behind a "Legacy Plan" that detailed the future of the Cunningham Dance Foundation, stipulating that the company would embark on a two-year farewell tour after his death and then disband.

Known for his passion for exploring new ways of moving and creating, Cunningham often disconnected dance from music during the choreographic process and frequently relied on chance procedures to help craft a work. Later in his career, he became interested in connecting dance with technology, choreographing on a computer program called DanceForms.

A public forum, "Merce Cunningham: Exploring the Legacy," will be held in the Senate Chambers of the Old Capitol Museum at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3. Forum participants will include Bonnie Brooks, current chairperson of the dance department at Columbia College Chicago and former president and executive director of Dance/USA; Rebekah Kowal, UI professor of dance history and author of "How to Do Things with Dance: Performing Change in Postwar America," and Kevin Schroder, current UI MFA dance student and former member of Cunningham’s company.

There will be a free showing of "Split Sides" at the Bijou Theater at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6. Short opening remarks will be given by David Vaughan, archivist for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company since 1976. The film features one of Cunningham’s most radical uses of chance procedures in creating a new work. Original scores are presented by the British alternative rock group Radiohead and the Icelandic experimentalist group Sigur Rós, composed specifically for this collaboration.

There will be a company rehearsal, open to the public from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, in the Main Ballroom of the IMU. A pre-performance discussion will take place in the South Room of the IMU at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8. The discussion will feature David Vaughan and Bonnie Brooks talking about Cunningham’s choreography and legacy in preparation for the evening’s performance.

The performance by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company is supported by John and Sue Strauss, the F. Wendell Miller Fund, the Hancher Partners, and gifts to the Hancher Circle through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $60; college student $20; senior citizen $54; youth $30 from the Hancher Box Office. Seating for the performance is general admission.

The Hancher Box Office, located on the first floor of the south end of the Old Capitol Mall near the parking ramp, is open for phone (319-335-1160 or 800-HANCHER) or walk-up business from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Tickets may be ordered online at Any remaining tickets will be available for sale one hour before show time at the Iowa Memorial Union near the Main Lounge.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Rob Cline, Hancher, 319-335-3827,; Steve Parrott, University News Services, 319-384-0037,