Mr. Charlip, who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., devoted his youth to investigating the performing, literary and graphic arts. He studied design at New York's Cooper Union School of Fine Arts, but became part of American dance history when he attended North Carolina's Black Mountain College. In that hotbed of experimentalism, Mr. Charlip became one of the founding members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and remained with the organization for 11 years, as both dancer and set and costume designer, succeeded by Robert Rauschenberg.
A friend of the board forwarded this appreciation by Paul Parish in The Bay Area Reporter.
Charlip invited us to attend to the world inside, especially in the moments we aren't supposed to notice. "Waking up, cooking your breakfast, going to the toilet can be dances," he said. Crossing the border from sleeping to waking, from hunger to satisfaction, from distress to relief– these are important daily transitions. Charlip came up with rites of passage to honor these changes of psychic state, to make modest liturgy for the times when the body tugs at the mind and asks to be paid attention to. Getting out of bed could be a dance. Indeed, now his "Dance in a Bed" is being danced all over the world, using the brilliant drawings he created, put together any way the performer wants. The 16 figures he drew may be used in any order, with any transitions, using any music, performed anywhere the dancer likes. He called this an airmail dance, and he drew many of them.
Rita Felciano's appreciation is posted in the Links for August 21.