Merce Cunningham Trust


Melissa Toogood was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company; her tenure included the highly acclaimed Legacy Tour. She was a founding member of Miro Dance Theatre, Michael Uthoff Dance Theatre and has performed with Robert Wood Dance and in collaboration with writer Anne Carson. Melissa earned a BFA in Dance Performance from New World School of the Arts, Miami, FL under Dean Daniel Lewis. She is currently performing with Pam Tanowitz Dance, The Rosie Herrera Dance Theater, Rashaun Mitchell & Silas Riener Dance and projects sponsored by the Merce Cunningham Trust. She began working with Merce as a member of the CDF Repertory Understudy Group in November 2005. A faculty member at the Merce Cunningham Studio since 2007, she is now on faculty at Dance New Amsterdam and City Center, was a guest professor at Bard College last Fall and will be joining the company and faculty at the Centre National de Danse Contemporaine in Angers, France this September. Melissa has assisted Robert Swinston in repertory workshops in New York and London and has taught master classes in Miami, Minneapolis, Toronto, the Martha Graham School, NYU and in her native city of Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Mark Mann)


Daniel Squire trained at White Lodge and at Rambert. He has performed with Michael Clark, Ian Spink, Matthew Hawkins, Merce Cunningham, Irish Modern Dance Theatre, John Kelly, Paulina Olowska, and others. He studied Shakespeare at RADA, has been a percussionist in several semi-professional orchestras, and continues to act, teach, play, dance, stage, and perform internationally. He was recently Curator for the Dance Program for the exhibit Dancing Around the Bride: Cage, Cunningham, Johns, Rauschenberg, and Duchamp at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Photo: Lisa Carville)


Megan Walker Straight was born in Vernon, British Columbia. After receiving her BA in Dance and Film from the University of California, Berkeley, she relocated to NYC where she danced in the companies of Kenneth King, Douglas Dunn, and Lucinda Childs before joining the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1980. Upon leaving the company in 1986 she pursued training in the Dance Therapy Masters program at the University of New York's Hunter College and at the Helix Institute for Psychotherapy and Spiritual Healing in NYC. She worked with inner city children and their families before changing coasts once again. Living on the west coast of British Columbia since 1990, she has taught and choreographed (with Merce as her muse) in remote coastal communities and at studios in the Vancouver area. Since 2000 she has been teaching at Simon Fraser University School for the Contemporary Arts in Vancouver, British Columbia.


Lisa Boudreau is a graduate of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. She was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1994 - 2008. Lisa is currently a private yoga instructor.



Thomas Caley graduated with a BFA from Purchase College in 1992, after which he joined the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1993, performing until 2000. In 1996 he joined the faculty of the Cunningham school and has continued to stage works and teach Cunningham technique internationally. From 2000 - 2002 he was repetitor and teacher for the Royal Swedish Ballet. Since 2000 Thomas has continued to perform freelance, the latest project was with Boris Charmatz in his "50 ans de danse" in Vienne and Paris. In 2005, together with Petter Jacobsson, he formed Scentrifug. They together have collaborated in over 20 works, large and small. The company until 2011 has been based in Stockholm, Sweden. As of 2011 he works for the Centre Choregraphique National - Ballet de Lorraine in Nancy, France as Artistic Assistant and Coordinator for Research.


Meg Harper danced with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1968 - 1977 and with the Lucinda Childs Dance Company from 1979 - 1990. She began teaching at the Cunningham Studio in 1968, and was Chairman of the Faculty from 1991 - 1998. In 1994, with Chris Komar, she reconstructed Sounddance for the first time since its creation in 1974. Ms. Harper began performing in Robert Wilson's work in 1998, most recently dancing in the 2010 production of Kool, Dancing in My Mind, co-directed by Jonah Bokaer. She is currently working with video artist Seline Baumgartner, choreographer Marianna Kavalieratos , and theater director Charles Chemin. She has been asked to reconstruct Sounddance for the Ballet de Lorraine and is working with former Cunningham dancer Thomas Caley on this project, to be premiered in March of 2014. Ms. Harper teaches Qigong at senior centers throughout New York City under the sponsorship of Presbyterian Senior Services.


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. Recently, Sandra received the Winthrop President's Award for Service to the Community (for her reconstruction/restaging work on Merce Cunningham repertory) and became the Winthrop Faculty Advisor for the campus NAACP. At Winthrop, she also choreographed a hologram for the Wounded Warriors Project.