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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Merce Cunningham's 10 studio rules (written by John Cage)

I went to a conference in spetember where one of the speakers talked about going to Cunningham's studio in NY and finding a copy of these rules I think they are great.

This also looks like an interesting blog…

John Cage’s Ten Rules for Merce Cunningham’s dance studio

Rule 1: Find a place you trust, and then, try trusting it for awhile.

Rule 2: (General Duties as a Student) Pull everything out of your teacher.  Pull everything out of your fellow students.

Rule 3: (General Duties as a Teacher) Pull everything out of your students.

Rule 4:  Consider everything an experiment.

Rule 5:  Be Self-Disciplined.  This means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them.  To be disciplined is to follow in a good way.  To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

Rule 6:  Follow the leader.  Nothing is a mistake.   There is no win and no fail.  There is only make.

Rule 7:  The only rule is work.  If you work it will lead to something.  It is the people who do all the work all the time who eventually catch onto things.  You can fool the fans – but not the players.

Rule 8:  Do not try to create and analyze at the same time.  They are different processes.

Rule 9:  Be happy whenever you can manage it.  Enjoy yourself.  It is lighter than you think.

Rule 10: We are breaking all the rules, even our own rules, and how do we do that?  By leaving plenty of room for “x” qualities.

Helpful Hints:

Always be around.

Come or go to everything

Always go to classes.

Read everything you can get your hands on.

Look at movies carefully and often.

ANother link for a movie about Cunnnigham


  1. It is a cool post. I particularly liked 4, 8 and 9. When artists concern about results too much, we started to creates what audience want to see, rather than what artist's instinct and intuition tell to do. I often discuss this with my colleagues; balance of artistry and budgets、balance of what we want and what public want. Example, every choreographer wants to create their own original piece. However, that is risky and do not guarantee the income. On the other hand, The Nutcracker is a money box. Does not matter the quality, it produce money every time dance company put on stage.

    Therefore, I liked rule 4. I always try to tell my self, tonight's performance is just a step up for next performance;D make no regret. Be honest to my self and follow my instinct.
    So, number 9 is a follow up to number 4. Support your principal; every thing is experiment, be brave. Therefore, be positive about they out come. It should not matter out come is what the artist wanted to be or not. Just accept and analyse it calmly. And also not to be too critical about it, always try to find good points in results, as well as things can be improved. If there were no goodd points, we just need to tap our own shoulders to tell our selves that, at least we tried! That is more than follow the instruction and be safe! I think;P

    I like number 8. I have noticed, this 10 rules probably occur flow state more than ordinary situation. Especially if people succeed to follow number 4,5 and 7 well. As these advices are set to summon the state of flow to artists, I think. Especially, number 4, my favourite! This rule gives a piece of mind to artists. This rule release the artists from worrying about out come and provide a situation which they can just focus on purely what they are doing; present. Also 5 and 7 support 4, when 4 started to fall; when people started to doubt what they do, these advices back them up and put them back in a track of Flow, I think.

    Thank you for an interesting post. Another great quotes for my inquiry...

  2. Thanks Daisuke - the idea of the flow state is one of vital interest to artists. Yes the experimental space of a studio - be it a visual or dance or music studio - is a place where the scene is set for people alone or in groups to enter a state of creation. It is more than an office - more than a class - is it a theatre? a stage? a performance? Great that each performance is a step to the next performance - a cycle a flow a perpetual movement - really like that idea.