Encounter:Merce, Stanford’s interdisciplinary exploration through the arts, focusing on the life and art of Merce Cunningham, legendary choreographer, dance innovator, and artistic thinker.

Expanding its innovative approaches to learning, Stanford University has created its largest-ever multidisciplinary arts project. Schools, departments, and centers across campus are using Cunningham’s art as a unifying force for collaborative study, exploration, and creative expression. This cross-pollination has resulted in exceptional opportunities for students, faculty, and the community at large, including unique performances, events, classes, seminars, and more. We invite you to experience art through a myriad of perspectives. We invite you to ENCOUNTER:MERCE.

Merce Cunningham, an icon of modern dance, first rose to prominence as a dancer in Martha Graham’s company.

In 1953, while teaching at Black Mountain College—an innovative educational and artistic collective—Cunningham developed his own groundbreaking dance company. Propelled by a strong belief in collaboration as well as new ideas about the nature of dance, Cunningham, alongside his creative partner, John Cage, was instrumental in the evolution of the “happening”—the merging of independently created artistic efforts into a single creative event. Cunningham’s collaborative approach and fascination with chance procedures and new technologies have led to some of the most powerful partnerships the stage has seen. His pioneering work begun with Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol continues today with artists such as Ernesto Neto, Catherine Yass, and Takehisa Kosugi, to name but a few.

“Encounter:Merce will continue Stanford’s tradition of innovation and boldness and engage our faculty, students, and members of the community in new ways in the arts.

—John Hennessy,
Stanford University










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