During this exceptionally steamy August, all of us at the Merce Cunningham Trust are putting in full schedules continuing to offer programs for audiences and artists.
We recently completed an exhilarating Fellowship workshop digging into Merce Cunningham's Loosestrife (1991), which had not been seen in its entirety since the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC) performed it thirty years ago. The workshop was staged by former MCDC dancers Carol Teitelbaum (a 2022 Cunningham Fellow) and Jennifer Goggans (also the Trust Director of Programs). That same week, former MCDC dancer Dylan Crossman, with support from Patricia Lent, (also a former MCDC dancer and the Trust Director of Licensing), began an intensive engagement with Cunningham's Doubles (1984) in another iteration of In Conversation with Merce. Working with a group of professional dancers and choreographers in Kansas City, they exposed the artists to this work, which serves as inspiration for commissioned new works from the local artists. Continuing a Cunningham presence that dates back several years at the Vail Dance Festival, Melissa Toogood staged excerpts from Changing Steps (1973), which was performed by a seven dancers from American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, and BalletX. Pulitzer prize winner Caroline Shaw, joined by Joel Wenhardt performed live music..
In addition to continuing daily in-person classes in Cunningham Technique® and online through Instagram, we held another teacher training session this month. This ongoing development effort continues our strategy to encourage a new generation of dance artists, who never danced with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, to learn how to impart the knowledge they now have in their bodies from many hours of classes and workshops with our teachers and stagers. This effort is critical for the legacy's long-term sustainability and for expanding its reach today and into the future.
Closing out the month, former MCDC dancers Jean Freebury (also a 2022 Cunningham Fellow) and Patricia Lent are conducting a workshop centered around Cunningham's Doubletoss (1993). A fascinating dance that comprises two separately created dances combined through chance procedures, it is bound to reveal any number of 'aha' moments in its workshop.
The public showing of Doubletoss will be on August 26th at the Mark Morris Dance Center and marks the beginning of an exciting new collaboration between the the Center and the Trust. Beginning this fall, daily Cunningham Technique classes will be offered at the Center each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Mark Morris and Merce Cunningham were mutually admiring of each other and Mark is featured in episode 10 of the Mondays with Merce video series. Reflecting on this new association. Classes on Tuesday and Thursday will be at Gibney 280 downtown. We are excited to be able to expand where we are offering class to include Brooklyn and envision reaching an even broader audience by doing so.
The Trust's 2022 Barbara Ensley recipients have begun their time with the Trust and have very promising and full programs. Morgan Amirah Burns is being mentored by Charles Atlas and Francesca Harper and recipient Alexzander Larson is working closely with Kyle Abraham. We are excited to see how their six months progresses with us and how their work evolves. Applications for the 2023 Award are now being accepted.
Finally, it is a great pleasure to welcome our second Rights and Administrative Associate Jelani Taylor! Beginning just after Labor Day, Jelani will work with all of us at the Trust expanding his experience of non-profit licensing, administration and rights exploitation, as well as building rich connections in the New York community. We will have a fuller introduction in next month's newsletter.
Unfortunately, however, this also means that we are bidding farewell to this year's Associate, Lay'la Rogers, who is taking her next steps in her career after completing her year as the Associate. It is safe to say that as much as Lay'la may have grown while working with us, we learned so much from her and salute her deep involvement with the Trust and legacy as the first Associate in this position.
While Lay'la will be missed, she will always be part of the Cunningham community, a group of dedicated supporters of the legacy that we always enjoy engaging with. We hope to see you on August 26th for the Doubletoss showing, in class, or at one of our other programs.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Executive Director, Merce Cunningham Trust