Merce Cunningham Trust


Susana Hayman-Chaffey was born in England and left to travel the world with her parents when she was nine months old. They returned to England when she was ten and she went to study ballet at the Royal Ballet School. After which she studied with Grant Muradoff of the Ballet Russe in Rome, Italy. She began her Modern Dance training in Rio de Janeiro Brazil studying Graham Technique, Limon technique and Primitive Brazilian dance. In 1965 she moved to New York and studied at the Martha Graham School and the School of American Ballet. In 1968 she went to study at the Merce Cunningham studio and shortly after at nineteen was invited by Merce Cunningham to join the Company. She danced with them until the summer of 1976. In 1978 she became Studio Dance Education Coordinator for the Cunningham Studio and taught repertory and technique classes as well as in Europe and Japan. Through her research into well being techniques in 1990 she started teaching her Inner Being Retreats to help people become empowered to take care of their health and wellbeing. She has written six prose poetry books and has just finished her memoir.


Rashaun Mitchell was born in Stamford, Connecticut, and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He started dancing at Concord Academy in Massachusetts and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2000. He received the Viola Farber-Slayton Memorial Grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts in 2000. Since then he has danced with Pam Tanowitz, Chantal Yzermans, Donna Uchizono, Risa Jaroslow, Sara Rudner, and Richard Colton. He joined Merce Cunningham Dance Company in January 2004 and is currently on faculty at the Cunningham Studio. In 2007 he was the recipient of a Princess Grace Award: Dance Fellowship. His own choreography has been presented in New York at the Skirball Center, the La Mama Theater, Mt. Tremper Arts and The Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston.


Sandra Neels, since leaving her ten-year performance career with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (1963 – 1973), has choreographed over 200 works in a variety of settings across the United States, as well as Canada. She has taught and choreographed at the University of South Florida, York University in Toronto, the Harvard and Connecticut College Summer Sessions, Hampshire College, California Institute of the Arts (where she received the 1983 Faculty of the Year Award), The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Winthrop University (where she is an Associate Professor of Dance), the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Ballet Spartanburg, and Ballet Hawaii. In 2003, she reunited with MCDC, teaching company classes and coaching the dancers for their 2004 Lincoln Center performances. Since then, she has also reconstructed several of Cunningham’s works on MCDC as well as in student workshops. For the last nine years, she has choreographed a number of contemporary solos for dancers competing in the Youth America Grand Prix. In 2006 and 2007 she was choreographer for the Brevard Music Festival in North Carolina. Dance Magazine has published three of her “Teacher’s Wisdom” interviews on Stanislav Issaev, Robert Barnett, and Eva Evdokimova: she is currently writing a biography of the latter. She first assisted Mr. Cunningham in the teaching of his repertory in the early 70’s, during the restaging of How To Pass, Kick, Fall, and Run.


Susan Quinn joined the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1981, following her graduation from New York University with a BFA in Dance. She worked and toured with the company until 1987. The experience of dancing with Merce influenced and inspired her future artistic work. Susan went on to dance in New York City and abroad with various choreographers, at the same time developing her own interest in choreography. She began teaching contemporary technique and composition and moved to Europe where she founded her own company, Susan Quinn Dance Company. Her choreographic work was presented throughout Europe. In 1993 Susan founded SEAD as a center for training contemporary dancers and choreographers in Austria that would also provide the public performances and education in contemporary dance art. As Founder and Artistic Director, she has seen the program grow into an accredited academy with more than 100 international students and artists in residence and a theatre with monthly performance series that includes lectures and theoretical debates. In addition, as the initiator and curator of diverse festivals, platforms and performance events in contemporary dance, Susan continues to promote the advancement and magnification of contemporary dance in the art.


Andrea Weber was a dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company through its final 8 years, performing roles in over 25 works. Andrea received her BFA from The Juilliard School under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy.  She has danced and taught for Canadian-based Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, participating in the Manitoba, Gros Morne  and Banff Projects, and will return to Canada this fall to perform in Hymn to the Universe.  Andrea appears as the Dancer in THE DANCER FILMS, a series of very short films based on the cartoons of Jules Feiffer, directed by Judy Dennis and produced by Ellen Dennis, with choreography by Susan Marshall and Larry Keigwin. She has assisted and staged Lila York's works on ballet companies throughout the United States and in Denmark.  Andrea was a collaborator in Anne Carson's POSSESSIVE USED AS DRINK (ME) and has also danced with Jessica Lang, Jonah Bokaer, and Charlotte Griffin.  She is on faculty for the Merce Cunningham Trust, teaching Cunningham Technique™ at New York City Center and has taught at Brown University and the American Dance Festival.