Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago associate chair and faculty member Paige Cunningham Caldarella is profiled in a cover story in the September/October 2019 DanceTeacher magazine, an issue focusing on dance in higher education. In an article titled “Paige Cunningham Caldarella Keeps Cunningham Technique Relevant for Students at Columbia College Chicago,” DanceTeacher associate editor Rachel Rizzuto notes Caldarella’s association with the groundbreaking Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 2000 to 2004, saying, “Caldarella . . . is committed to keeping Cunningham relevant for this generation of Columbia College Chicago dancers, even as she continues to discover on her own what makes this technique special and worthy of continued attention.”
Caldarella is no relation to the influential experimental modern-dance choreographer Merce Cunningham, who died in 2009 at age 90. Here’s a video of Calderella and a student demonstrating the Cunningham technique.
“With the current generation of college students, technology plays such a huge role in their life—this ability to be on six different devices at once,” the article quotes Caldarella as saying. “Cunningham feels like the physical solution for multitasking in the body. You might have your leg out to the side as you’re tilting in the opposite direction. A lot has to go on in your body at once. . . . I was talking with a student the other day who said, ‘My generation has been taught not to fail.’ This whole idea of ‘teach to the test’ means failure is such a bad thing. But this is a space where you can create, you can make mistakes, you can figure things out. That’s what Merce did. He opened up the space to take the time to figure it out.”
Caldarella, who joined the Cunningham company after she had graduated from the Juilliard School, has been teaching at Columbia College for 12 years. “I try to be very transparent from the very beginning, telling the students about my own personal highs and lows, what I struggle with,” the article quotes her as saying. “It’s me letting them know: I recognize what you are doing, and I know how hard it is, and we’re in it together.”
To read the full article, click here.