Farewell to Cunningham










The dance world lost an iconic—and revolutionary—figure this summer. Merce Cunningham, one of the giants of the modern dance world, passed away in July at age 90. Known for his precise, abstract, intensely thoughtful works, Cunningham helped define 20th-century modern dance.


Beginning as a stand-out soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company, Cunningham founded his own troupe in 1953. (He continued to dance in nearly every one of his company’s performances until 1989, when, at age 70, he was still a magnetic presence onstage.)


The consummate intellectual, Cunningham enjoyed collaborating with other great artistic minds. Numerous well-known visual artists and musicians worked with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, most notably the composer John Cage, who was also Cunningham’s life partner from the 1940s until his death in 1992. Cage and Cunningham fundamentally changed the way the dance world thought about the relationship between dance and music: They believed that the two should exist independently. Cage also inspired Cunningham to abandon storytelling completely, and to rely on chance procedures (dice rolling, for example) to dictate the course and flow of a dance.


In June, the Cunningham Dance Foundation outlined its legacy plan, which ensures that Cunningham’s works will live on. —Margaret Fuhrer



Photo by Richard Rutledge

Latest Posts

Viktorina Kapitonova in "Swan Lake Bath Ballet" (photo by Ryan Capstick, courtesy Corey Baker Dance)

Please Enjoy the Quarantine Genius of “Swan Lake Bath Ballet”

That old saying about limitations breeding creativity—hat tip to Orson Welles—has never felt more relevant than in these lockdown days. Here's the latest brilliant dance project born (hatched?) of quarantine restrictions: "Swan Lake Bath Ballet," a contemporary take on the classic featuring 27 A-list ballet dancers performing from their own bathtubs.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search