Merce Cunningham Trust

Merce Cunningham Trust Announces New Executive Director


New York, NY, November 16, 2016 – The Merce Cunningham Trust (MCT), founded to preserve and extend the artistic legacy of the choreographer Merce Cunningham, is pleased to announce that Ken Tabachnick has been named its new Executive Director. Tabachnick, who has held executive and leadership positions at major New York educational and cultural institutions, including New York University and New York City Ballet, will oversee all operations of the Trust and will be instrumental in planning the Merce Cunningham Centenary celebrations, slated for 2018–2020.


Tabachnick comes to MCT with three decades of diverse and extensive leadership in the performing arts, including roles in higher education and non-profit management, as well as the provision of design, legal, and business services for some of the country’s major cultural organizations. Most recently, he was an independent consultant and a senior associate at AEA Consulting, working with such clients as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Film, and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. He has served as Deputy Dean of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, as Dean of the School of the Arts at Purchase College, where he oversaw the Conservatories of Music, Dance, Theatre, and the School of Art+Design, and as General Manager of New York City Ballet. Tabachnick has also served on the board of directors of several arts organizations, including the Stephen Petronio Company and Dance/USA.


“We are delighted to welcome Ken Tabachnick, who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in arts management and strategic planning to the role of Executive Director,” said Trevor Carlson, a trustee of MCT. “Ken’s long commitment to dance, as well as his broad financial and business acumen, will be invaluable as we plan the Trust’s future programs and activities.”


“I am thrilled to join the Merce Cunningham Trust in honoring the legacy of one of the most important and influential artists of our time,” said Tabachnick. “I look forward to working with the Trust in furthering its mission and goals, including organizing the Centenary celebration, and working with the trustees into the future.”


Tabachnick begins his role at MCT on November 28, 2016. He will succeed Lynn Wichern, who has served as Executive Director since 2012.


A New York native, Tabachnick began his career as a lighting designer for some of the most prestigious dance and opera companies, including the Bolshoi Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Trisha Brown Company, Stephen Petronio Company, Robert Wilson, and New York City Opera, among others. He received his J.D. from Fordham Law School in 1996, and from 1997 to 2004, maintained a solo practice in New York City, serving a variety of clients including online ventures, magazines, directors, writers, designers, and producers.


About the Merce Cunningham Trust 

The Merce Cunningham Trust (MCT) was established by Merce Cunningham in 2000, with the mission to preserve, extend and maintain the integrity of Merce Cunningham’s choreography, a vast repertory spanning more than seventy years, and to make such works available for the benefit of the public. In 2012, MCT established offices at New York City Center, where it oversees the licensing of Merce Cunningham’s choreography and administers programs related to the preservation and promotion of Cunningham’s legacy worldwide. MCT maintains a robust licensing program, with projects ranging from productions of complete masterworks by world-renowned companies to introductory workshops designed for young dancers new to Cunningham’s work.  Since 2012, MCT has worked with thirty-five professional companies and museums, and more than fifty schools.


MCT offers daily Cunningham Technique classes at City Center, and hosts periodic intensive workshops taught by former Merce Cunningham Dance Company dancers.  MCT supports the training and preparation of current and future stagers of Cunningham’s work through the Cunningham Fellowship Program. Cunningham Fellows are awarded funds to study and reconstruct Cunningham repertory during intensive workshops with select dancers. The workshops are free for participating dancers, with stipends awarded to exceptional dancers. Each workshop culminates in a free public studio showing, now live-streamed in partnership with NYU’s Tisch Dance and New Media Program. To date, MCT has awarded twenty-eight Cunningham Fellowships, and included more than 300 dancers in its intensive workshops.


MCT supports key university dance programs, initiating gifts to underwrite the teaching of Cunningham Technique and repertory within the university setting. Cunningham Technique and repertory are currently taught at numerous universities and conservatories, including Purchase College, State University of New York, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, The Juilliard School, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, CNSMD Paris, and CNDC Angers.


MCT has also financed the sorting and cataloguing of the Cunningham Archive at the New York Library for the Performing Arts. MCT has located and digitized two lost Cunningham films, as well as secured distribution rights for another ten archival films. MCT sustains educators, researchers and curators through the ongoing maintenance and improvement of the Merce Cunningham Dance Capsules, its digital technology platform, and through social media, film resources, and live-streaming initiatives.


The Trustees of the Merce Cunningham Trust are Trevor Carlson, Laura Kuhn, Patricia Lent, Allan G. Sperling, and Robert Swinston.


For more information about the Merce Cunningham Trust, please visit


Press contact: Janet Stapleton - 212-633-0016 /