The company led by American modern dance pioneer Merce Cunningham first toured Australia in March 1976 under the name Merce Cunningham and Dance Company. The tour began in Sydney, continued on to Adelaide, where the company performed as part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts, and concluded in Canberra. The repertoire for each city was drawn from the following works: Rebus, Rune, Signals, Solo, Sounddance, Squaregame, which received its world premiere in Adelaide, Summerspace, Torse, T.V Rerun and Winterbranch.
The company came to Australia again in 2001 under its current name, Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC). On this occasion MCDC performed only in Perth as part of the Perth International Arts Festival. The program for each evening was drawn from the following works: BIPED, Event, Interscape, Pond Way, RainForest and Summerspace. In addition the company performed at a special outdoor event at North Cottesloe beach. During this tour Merce Cunningham received an honorary degree from Edith Cowan University for outstanding international achievements in dance.
In 2007, the Melbourne International Arts Festival featured a Merce Cunningham Residency. MCDC performed in two programs during the Festival, Program A consisting of Suite for Five, eyeSpace and BIPED, and Program B of Views on Stage and Split Sides. The Festival also featured a new site specific MCDC Event created at Federation Square on October 21, two Music Committee concerts, films and visual arts installations. Lee Christofis, Curator of Dance at the National Libary of Australia and David Vaughan, MCDC archivist, conducted an onstage interview with Cunningham, discussing his life, influences and work.
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This small collection of programs and flyers relates to the Adelaide, Sydney and Canberrra performances of the 1976 Australian tour of Merce Cunningham and Dance Company. The company was brought to Australia by the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust and the Adelaide Festival of the Arts.
This collection contains newspaper clippings, programs, photographs, production schedules, notes, brochures, memoranda, drawings, maps and newsletters. Rothwell, a theatre administrator, was involved with dance through his employment with the Arts Council of Australia as a tour manager (1961-1963), various roles with the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust (1964, 1972-1979), and with the Australian Ballet as tour manager (1984-1987). Dance companies represented include Zorba Dance Company, Merce Cunningham and Dance Company, National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica, Alice Reyes Ballet, and the Little Angels: the National Folk Ballet of Korea. Individual correspondents include Noel Pelly and Ian McRae. Particularly relevant to the Australian Ballet are copies of the internal staff publication Company Herald, and a scrapbook containing photographs and newspaper clippings of the Australian Ballet's 1963 tour of Queensland. Additional photographic material includes personal photographs of Irina Baronova, Noel Pelly, John Lanchbery, and dancers from the Australian Ballet. Further information relating to the scope and content of the papers can be found at MS 8373 – Papers of Geoffrey Rothwell.
This extensive collection contains correspondence, play scripts, scores and lyrics, publicity material, magazines, programs, financial records, administrative files, newspaper cuttings, tape recordings, production files, and photographs. Among the many dance companies and organisations documented are: the Australian Ballet; Australian Ballet Foundation; Australian Ballet School; Aboriginal Dance Company; J. C. Williamson Theatres Ltd.; West Australian Ballet; Australian Dance Theatre; Ballet Victoria; Dance Company (N.S.W.); Sydney City Ballet; Queensland Ballet; Gopi Krishna’s Dancing Ballet Troupe; Ballet Folklorico of Mexico; Dance Theatre of Harlem; Eleo Pomare Dance Company; Merce Cunningham and Dance Company; National Dance Theatre of Jamaica; Paul Taylor Dance Company; Zorba Song and Dance Company; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre; Ballet Rambert; Bat-Dor Dance Company; Batsheva Dance Company; Chhau Masked Dancers of Bengal; Polish Mime Ballet Theatre; Kathakali Dance Troupe; Ballet Folklorique Yougoslave Branco Kromanovic; Kolo Dancing Ensemble; Claude Bessy and Attilo Labis; Bolshoi Ballet; the Chitrasena Ballet; and the Tasmanian Ballet. Further information relating to the scope and content of the papers can be found at MS 5908 - Records of Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust.