Chance and Circumstance

Trade Paper – $26.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2513-1
Publication Date
January 2009
Categories
Page Count
656 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9
ISBN
0-8101-2513-7

Chance and Circumstance

Twenty Years with Cage and Cunningham

Carolyn Brown, one of the most renowned dancers of the last half-century, lived at the center of New York's bold and vibrant artistic community, which included not only dancers and choreographers but composers and painters as well. Brown's memoir recounts her own remarkable twenty-year tenure with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and provides a first-hand account of a pivotal period in twentieth-century art.
 
From the 1950s to the 1970s, Brown developed close relationships with musical director John Cage and set-designer Robert Rauschenberg and with Cunningham himself. Brown's memoir reveals the personal dynamics between the reserved and moody Cunningham and the playful and ebullient Cage, as well as the controversial yet undeniably brilliant creativity that resulted when the two collaborated. Brown relates the company's rise from its cash-strapped early years when the group traveled by VW bus to perform in small venues to the 1964 world tour that left the group exhausted but finally brought them large-scale acclaim.
 
A unique chronicle of the avant-garde's struggle for acceptance, Brown's memoir provides a riveting first-hand account of a little-documented era in modern dance that nonetheless had a tremendous impact on the course of art in the twentieth century.
About the Author

Carolyn Brown continues to work with the Cunningham company as an artistic consultant. She is a member of the Cunningham Dance Foundation Board of Directors and has worked as a freelance choreographer, filmmaker, writer, lecturer, and teacher. She has been awarded the Dance Magazine Award, five National Endowment for the Arts grants, and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, Dance Perspectives, Ballet Review, and the Dance Research Journal. She lives in Millbrook, New York.
Reviews

"Candid, compelling, and possessed of a keen critical eye and ear, Brown tells fascinating tales of New York's madly innovative mid-twentieth-century art world, details the endless struggle to keep the cash-poor company together, discloses her own sacrifices and triumphs, and assesses the profound influence of the Cage-Cunningham aesthetic"--Booklist, starred review

"Though she modestly never says so, reading her book, one realizes that Carolyn Brown's body carries with it an accumulated history of nearly the whole century of modern American dance."--The Nation

"[This] clear-eyed, unsentimental memoir . . . is something rare—an eyewitness account of an artistic revolution."

New Yorker