Marianne Preger-Simon...writes the gentle Dancing With Merce Cunningham from a position of preternatural acceptance and love ... [a] gossamer light memoir ... In ultrabrief chapters, she notes what she ate or the beauty of a field as the troupe drove by in its rattling VW bus. Yet somehow this never seems beside the point ... I found I carried her book around for longer than it took to read it. I would open it sometimes, just to remind myself: It may look to the world like nothing, but everything is the dance.
For her book Preger-Simon smoothly knits together photographs, fragments from letters, diaries, press notices, and retrospection ... A keen observer and letter-writer, she can recount conversations she had with [Merce] and Cage about their developing aesthetics ... Preger-Simon gives a lively sense of the people she worked with, especially her close friend, company dancer Carolyn Brown, and the elusive Cunningham ... Despite dance critic Alastair Macaulay’s expansive Afterword, this is not a book for learning everything about the history of Merce Cunningham...What Dancing with Merce Cunningham gives us is the generous and loving presence of its author, who understood the value of the work she was doing and the people who did it with her.
Marianne Preger-Simon’s memoir Dancing with Merce Cunningham rescues the conversation about her and fellow artists’ lived experiences from weighty, theoretic explanations of Cunningham that attempt to talk over their dancing ... written with sincere, heartfelt admiration for Cunningham and the once little-known company’s journey to critical renown. And as a memoir of professional maturation, Preger shows how readily she absorbed the advice of her mentors and it is clear that she wants to share everything she gained from their expertise ... There are never moments when Preger’s account of Cunningham or peers devolves into sophomoric gossip. Even when she recollects private discussions, she is giving us a mature response to a mindful appraisal of how the past shaped her. What the book could use, however, is more of Preger’s interpretation at moments where her perspective is uniquely qualified to make evaluations. This she leaves up to the reader perhaps too often ... Preger has crafted a compelling personal narrative that may hopefully lead further discussions on Cunningham — an artist who keeps us, like Preger, continually returning to his work.