Doctoral candidate in musicology Elizabeth Hoover presented a paper titled "Variations V: “Escaping Stagnation” Through Movement of Signification" at Movement, a conference presented by the Graduate forum and the Department of Music at Harvard University. The interdisciplinary conference took place on February 26, and focused on “exploring concepts of movement in music ranging from social, to sonic, ideological to practical, timeless to historical.” Hoover’s paper contributed to the exploration of these themes examining Merce Cunningham and John Cage’s dance and music collaboration Variations V. In discussing the relationship in Variations V between movement, sound, and broader U.S. culture, Hoover considers,
“…the choreography of Variations V in tandem with sound as part of a shifting structure which questioned the socio-politico environment of the time. The collaboration premiered and toured the United States during the mid-60s, a decade persistently described in terms of movement: in revolution, as traveling in space, as going to war, and as embodied in social unrest. Scholarly accounts of Variations V rarely address the dynamism of this rhetoric, even though it is also emphasized by Cage’s a posteriori score, his thirty-seven brief statements which culminate in a call to action: “escape stagnation.”
Hoover’s presentation on Cunningham and Cage is a continuation of her scholarly focus on indeterminacy. A spring 2009 presentation at City University of New York’s Graduate Center symposium focused on the Earle Brown’s Calder Piece. Indeterminacy is, by it’s nature a challenging aspect of contemporary music, with even informed musicians and scholars questioning its validity, but Hoover’s research shows succinctly how the practitioners of this approach to art are deeply rooted in the in contemporary American culture.