“You are the music/ While the music lasts.” Whatever these words mean in Eliot’s Four Quartets, they have often been given new meaning in dance, and nowhere more so than in the solos choreographed by Merce Cunningham. He is the choreographer whose most radical, controversial, and profound contribution to choreography was to separate it from music — or so it seemed. The dance that the audience saw and the music that it heard were composed independently. The audible music, which often varied unpredictably at each performance, operated separately, sometimes like a hostile environment. What was easy to miss was that, whereas most dance responded to heard music, Cunningham’s dance embodied many unheard musics. It was a theatrical adventure without serious precedent: sometimes the dancers seemed to be at one with “the music of the spheres.” The neurologist Oliver Sacks often wrote, most hauntingly in Awakenings, of the effect of music on physical coordination. He turned this effect into a participle: some recovering patients feel that they are “musicked,” others feel “unmusicked.” The profound connection that he describes of music to movement is something that all lovers of dance surely recognize. But Sacks tends to write of music as something that enters the human from an exterior source, from outside, as a stimulating accompaniment. Cunningham took the process to another level: he and his dancers made music by dancing it. The originality of the approach can hardly be exaggerated. Cunningham died in 2009. Are the musics within his choreography surviving his death? April 16, 2019 would have been Cunningham’s hundredth birthday. Since he died not too long ago and presented his last big premiere on his ninetieth birthday, memories were fresh. The centennial evening was marked by “A Night of a Hundred Solos,” staged in three cities: London, Brooklyn, and Los

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