Merce Cunningham Trust

Established by Cunningham in 2000 and recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation in 2002, the Merce Cunningham Trust holds and administers the rights to Cunningham's choreography.  The mission of the Trust is to preserve, enhance, and maintain the integrity of the choreographic and other artistic works of Merce Cunningham, and make such works available for the benefit of the public. As outlined by the Cunningham Dance Foundation's Legacy Plan, which addressed how an arts organization established to fulfill a single artist's vision can ensure the perpetuation of an enduring creative legacy following its founder's death, the Trust became custodian for Cunningham's work following the planned closure of the Cunningham Dance Foundation in 2012.


The Trust's primary areas of focus include:


Repertory Licensing and Workshops


The Trust licenses Cunningham dances to be performed by leading dance companies and dance students around the globe and oversees repertory workshops at educational institutions worldwide.




The Trust offers daily classes to provide the dance community with training in Cunningham Technique®, the root of all of Cunningham's choreography. These classes are overseen by former MCDC dancers at locations throughout New York City, including City Center, Dance New Amsterdam, and the Mark Morris Dance Center.




The Cunningham Fellowship is a new program designed to further the Trust's mission of teaching, reviving, and restaging Cunningham's works, and make them available to the public for performance and study.  Supervised by Robert Swinston and supported by a $6000 stipend from the Trust, Fellows restage a Cunningham work during an intensive workshop with pre-professional students and engage in scholarship related to Merce Cunningham and MCDC history, teaching for beginners and non-dancer professionals, and the fundamental structures and vocabulary of Cunningham Technique®. At present the Fellowship is open to former members of the MCDC.



The Trust supports ongoing scholarship about Merce Cunningham and his work. Scholar in Residence Nancy Dalva, a dance writer and producer of the webseries Mondays with Merce, facilitates access to the Merce Cunningham Archive at the New York Public Library for scholarly and research purposes and serves as a point of contact for scholars and historians.

Partner Programs


In partnership with local, national, and international cultural institutions, the Trust mounts special exhibitions, performances, and projects that celebrate Cunningham's artistic achievements.



Merce Cunningham Trust leadership: