MacArthur Fellows Program

Merce Cunningham

Choreographer | Class of 1985

Title
Choreographer
Location
New York, New York
Age
66 at time of award
Deceased
July 26, 2009
Area of Focus
Choreography and Dance

Merce Cunningham was a choreographer and the director of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Cunningham created more than 160 dances, most of them for his company, which was formed in 1953.  Characterized by movement free of specific expression or intention, and a separation of dance from music, his works were seen in the repertories of the New York City Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, the Paris Opera Ballet, and the Rambert Dance Company, among others. 

Cunningham’s dances include Pictures (1984), Points in Space (1986), Fabrications (1987), Five Stone Wind (1988) Enter (1992), Ocean (1994), Ground Level Overlay (1995), BIPED (1999), Interscape (2000), and Split Sides (2003).  Cunningham collaborated on two books, Changes, Notes on Choreography (Frances Starr, 1968) and The Dancer and the Dance, interviews with Jacqueline Lesschaeve (1985).  Cunningham worked extensively in film and video, and in collaboration with Charles Atlas, produced the documentary, “Merce Cunningham: A Lifetime in Dance,” which was shown on PBS's American Masters in 2001.

Cunningham received his first formal dance and theater training at the Cornish School in Seattle and began choreographing in 1942.  

Last updated January 1, 2005.

News About this Fellow
September 17, 2016
"Review: MacArthur Fellows Impress in Evening of Dance"
Chicago Tribune
Susan S. Marshall , 2000 MacArthur Fellow
Merce Cunningham , 1985 MacArthur Fellow
Mark Morris , 1991 MacArthur Fellow
Kyle Abraham, 2013 MacArthur Fellow
Michelle Dorrance, 2015 MacArthur Fellow
Related Grantee: Harris Theater for Music and Dance
September 16, 2016
"An Evening of Dance With MacArthur Fellows Puts Creativity Onstage"
Chicago Reader
Susan S. Marshall , 2000 MacArthur Fellow
Merce Cunningham , 1985 MacArthur Fellow
Mark Morris , 1991 MacArthur Fellow
Kyle Abraham, 2013 MacArthur Fellow
Michelle Dorrance, 2015 MacArthur Fellow
Related Grantee: Harris Theater for Music and Dance
August 22, 2016
"Harris Theater to Present Free Concert Honoring MacArthur Fellows"
Chicago Tribune
Susan S. Marshall , 2000 MacArthur Fellow
Merce Cunningham , 1985 MacArthur Fellow
Mark Morris , 1991 MacArthur Fellow
Kyle Abraham, 2013 MacArthur Fellow
Michelle Dorrance, 2015 MacArthur Fellow
January 11, 2016
MacArthur Announces Performances, Discussion to Celebrate 35 Years of Iconic Fellowship Program
Most of the events will be open to the public for free or at low cost. Video of many events will be made available online.
July 29, 2009
"Merce Cunningham, Dance Visionary, Dies"
The New York Times
Merce Cunningham , 1985 MacArthur Fellow
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