Sunday, January 10, 2010

merce cunningham...

today i am grateful for...

attending an open class at merce cunningham dance studio.

studio space

mirror reflection

the space literally took my breath away. the studio is nestled in the west village, on the 9th floor overlooking the sprawling manhattan skyline and the hudson river. natural light pours in from massive arched windows, illuminating the room, and the whole space is awash in white.

floral molding


quirky little details abound. floral molding echoes the lines of the room. exit signs are carved into the walls, preserved next to its modern red, glowing counterparts.

house plants

window plant

the rawness of the space is complimented by loads of potted house plants. even natural elements like shells, river stones, and feathers are intertwined with brochures and pamphlets on tables around the studio.

merce's company

the class itself was far more advanced than i expected, but i didn't mind. a man in the corner played an african drum set while the instructor called out positions, and 8-count rhythms. sinewy-limbed ballerinas in leotards and messy buns and bandaged feet. faces always relaxed yet composed. hands just so. and a really natural, poetic energy flowed from the dancers. i couldn't follow all of the steps(or most of them, for that matter) but i was happy to observe. and i would most definitely give it a go, again.

merce solo

merce laughing

merce was such a gift to the art of dance. he was one of the names we studied in my 20th century art history class. isadora duncan. martha graham. and merce cunningham and the black mountain college.

merce drawing 3

merce drawing 2

letters to merce 1

letters to merce 3

letters to merce 5

a glass counter filled with memorabilia and memories of merce. books of his quirky drawings. and a compendium of letters to merce from fellow dancers and admirers. he passed away in july of this summer, having changed avant garde dance forever.

ballerina book

afterwards i wandered into my local bookshop and literally stumbled upon this little book on the $1 cart. and it made me smile.


Hat said...

I'm so jealous, I'd love to have dance lessons again but it's been so long! Plus round where I live it'd be damn hard to find a beautiful space like that which held classes.

bee said...

How lovely! How brave you are to go to the open class! My old dance teacher studied with Merce when she was young. But my heart was always dreaming of SAB! If you have ever danced, those dreams never seem to quite let go of you!

"hi, i'm ginnybranch stelling and i love love." said...

oh lord, i was sooooo over my head! i am no way even good enough to be called a basic beginner in ballet. i just want to take classes and wear a leotard and ballet shoes ;)

Alyson said...

I just wanted to say HOOORAY! That is so brave to go to a dance class!

I also wanted to let you know, I know that you wanted to do more yoga this year, and I don't know if you have heard of But you can do a free class each week, and then they have free 30 minute workshops on their blog as well.

Emily said...

oh my!!! Good job! You must describe every detail next time we see each other!

hayliebird said...

wow! what a beautiful post, ginny. so dreamy and mystifying. also, what a wonderful find your $1 book is!! it was so meant to be, what a sweet token of your day at merce.

meg said...

love this post, ginny! so dreamy. heaven. way to go!

jamie said...

on an unrelated note, i remember your posts about "the giving tree", so i thought of your blog when i saw this beautiful little thing:

Jay said...

This space is amazing... what incredible light! And you're getting such a jump on your resolutions!

I loved reading all the guestbook notes. So sweet and heartfelt.

goOodmorning said...


Karin said...

Oh dancing. I always danced growing up and went to a dancing school until I was about 23. Now it has been ages since I last danced and I didn't have the time with three little ones. But in a little while, I definitely am going to search for dance lessons again. I miss it. There is nothing better than dancing to me.
The studio looks gorgeous. What an inspiring place to dance in!

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