Merce Cunningham Trust

Staff:

Lynn Wichern - Executive Director

Patricia Lent - Director of Licensing

Jennifer Goggans - Studio Coordinator

Trustees: Trevor Carlson, Laura Kuhn, Patricia Lent, Allan G. Sperling, Robert Swinston

Scholar in Residence: Nancy Dalva

 

Lynn Wichern, Executive Director

Lynn Wichern was named executive director of the Merce Cunningham Trust in March 2010, and assumed the role in January  2012.  She previously served for seven years as Chief Financial Officer of the Cunningham Dance Foundation, where she played an instrumental role in developing and implementing the Legacy Plan.  From 1996 to 2005 she was Fiscal Administrator for the Mark Morris Dance Group, and from 1989 to 1995 she was Fiscal Administrator of the Foundation for Independent Artists, a ten member corporate conduit for unincorporated artists, administered by Pentacle/DanceWorks. In that capacity she was the financial manager for Jane Comfort, Doug Varone, Urban Bush Women and Eiko and Koma, among others. Before coming to New York City, she was a professor of Dance at the University of Virginia, Illinois Wesleyan University, and Drake University. She choreographed and performed as part of EMR Dance Company and Wichern/Wolfson Dance & Music in the 1990s, and was a dancer with the Nancy Meehan Dance Company from 1987 to 1994. She currently serves on the board of Pentacle/DanceWorks. Wichern is a graduate of the University of Iowa, where she received a BA and MA in Dance. She holds a MFA in Dance and Theater from Case Western Reserve University.

 

Patricia Lent, Trustee and Director of Licensing

Patricia Lent serves as a Trustee and Director of Licensing for the Merce Cunningham Trust. She was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1984 to 1993, and White Oak Dance Project from 1994 to 1996. Lent was on the faculty of the Merce Cunningham Studio for over twenty years, teaching technique classes and repertory workshops. She has staged Merce Cunningham's work for numerous schools and companies, including Fabrications for Ballet de Lorraine, Scramble for Repertory Dance Theater, Duets for American Ballet Theatre, Channels/Inserts for Lyon Opera Ballet, Beach Birds for North Carolina School of the Arts, and Roaratorio for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's Legacy Tour. She continues to teach, stage, and conduct workshops in her capacity at the Trust.

 

Jennifer Goggans, Studio Coordinator

Jennifer Goggans began dancing in her hometown of Owensboro, KY, and continued her studies at the Nutmeg Ballet in Connecticut. She received her BFA in Dance from SUNY Purchase in 2000, and joined MCDC that same year. Goggans was a faculty member of the Merce Cunningham Studio, from 2005 until its planned closure in 2012, and has taught master classes throughout the United States and across Europe. In addition, she has staged Cunningham's Cross Currents (1964) for both the Augusta Ballet and the Verb Ballet as well as Winterbranch (1964) for the L.A. Dance Project. Moreover, she and Robert Swinston restaged Un jour ou deux (1973) on l'Opera National de Paris and both will restage BIPED (1999) on Bayerisches Staatsballett. Goggans has performed with the Louisville Ballet, MOMIX, Chantal Yzermans, Christopher Williams, and has created costumes for Daniel Squire's [sic], RoseAnne Spradlin's Survive Cycle, and Tere O'Connor's Wrought Iron Fog. Goggans joined the staff as Studio Coordinator in January, 2013.

 

Trevor Carlson, Trustee

Trevor Carlson was named a Trustee of the Merce Cunningham Trust in May 2011. He began working at the Cunningham Dance Foundation in 1998 and became Executive Director in 2005, after serving as General Manager, Director of Communications, and Company Manager. During his tenure, he fortified MCDC’s residency programs and, in collaboration with Cunningham, developed a workshop for students based on Cunningham’s use of DanceForms. Carlson increased the Company's visual artist collaborations by developing the possibility for Merce to create Events in repertory theater houses, using different settings for each performance. A total of 25 additional collaborations were staged in this manner. He also helped to forge new ventures such as the webcast series Mondays with Merce, for which he served as Executive Producer. With Lynn Wichern, CFO, and members of the Board, Carlson developed and implemented the Legacy Plan, including the Legacy Tour, Dance Capsules, and career transition. He has lectured throughout South and North America, Europe, and the Middle East. A graduate of Juilliard with a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance, he co-founded and has performed with the Stanley Love Performance Group.

 

Laura Kuhn, Trustee

Laura Kuhn is the executive director of the John Cage Trust, which she helped to found shortly after Cage’s death in 1992. Kuhn began working with Cage in 1986 on a variety of large-scale projects, completing her doctoral dissertation on Cage’s “Europeras” in 1992. From 1991 to 1996 she served as a founding faculty member of the Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance Program at Arizona State University West in Phoenix. In 2007, the John Cage Trust went into permanent residency at Bard College, where Kuhn became the first John Cage Professor of Performance Arts.

 

Allan G. Sperling, Trustee

Allan G. Sperling is a lawyer and long-time member of the Board of Directors of the Cunningham Dance Foundation. He first joined the Cunningham Dance Foundation Board in 1985, and served as its chairman from 1992-1998 and as the chairman of the Foundation’s Legacy Committee from 2008 to 2012. Sperling is a partner of the law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, which provides the Merce Cunningham Trust with legal services on a pro bono basis. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and the Alliance for Downtown New York. Sperling previously served as chairman of the boards of directors of the Neuberger Museum of Art and the Rye Arts Center.

 

Robert Swinston, Trustee

Robert Swinston was named a Trustee of the Merce Cunningham Trust in 2009, and joined the Trust's staff as Director of Choreography in 2012, following thirty-one years with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Swinston joined the Company in August 1980 and became Assistant to the Choreographer in July 1992. Following Cunningham's death in July 2009, he was named Director of Choreography, and oversaw the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Repertory Understudy Group and its work with the Cunningham Educational Outreach Program until the closure of the Company in 2011. Beginning in 1998 he oversaw many Cunningham archival reconstructions for MCDC and staged Cunningham works on other companies, including Boston Ballet, White Oak Dance Project, Rambert Dance Company, New York City Ballet, Bayerische Staatsballet and the Paris Opera Ballet. In 2003, Swinston received a "Bessie" Award for his performance in the revival of Cunningham's How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run. Swinston was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended Middlebury College and The Juilliard School, where he received a BFA in Dance. In addition to MCDC, he danced with the Martha Graham Apprentice Company, the José Limón Dance Company, and with Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theatre. In January, 2013 Swinston became Artistic Director of the Centre National de Danse Contemporaine (CNDC) in Angers, France where he continues to share the Cunningham Legacy.

 

Nancy Dalva, Scholar in Residence

Nancy Dalva was appointed the Merce Cunningham Trust Scholar in Residence in 2012.  A frequent writer and speaker on dance and related subjects, she produced and wrote the webseries Mondays with Merce for the Cunningham Dance Foundation. A Critic Fellow of both the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and the American Dance Festival, she brings the perspective of a dramaturg to a subject without words.