Merce Cunningham Trust


Trevor Carlson
Laurence Getford
Laura Kuhn
Patricia Lent
Rashaun Mitchell
Jeff Seroy
Allan G. Sperling
Robert Swinston



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.


Laurence Getford has been a visual artist, sound arts performer and media arts pioneer since the early 1970’s. After receiving an MFA from RISD in 1976, Laurence continued to exhibit and perform while designing and constructing science museum multimedia exhibits. In 1986 Laurence's work in multimedia theater attracted the attention of Robert Rauschenberg who engaged him as independent videographer and studio assistant during the R.O.C.I. tour. In 1990 Laurence joined Rauschenberg Studios / Untitled Press Inc. full time. Working closely with Rauschenberg he created innovative digital processes and techniques that were instrumental in Rauschenberg’s artwork until 2008. 

During that period he also assisted Rauschenberg with dance related projects for Merce Cunningham Dance Company and Trisha Brown Dance, including stage sets, costumes and sound composition. In 2010 he performed with MCDC as a musician at Art Basel Miami. From 2012 to 2014 he worked with the Rauschenberg Foundation in technical and administrative capacities.

Laurence is currently creating visual arts exhibitions, sound arts performances and consulting individuals and institutions on art and technology.

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.

Patricia Lent, Trustee and Director of Licensing

Patricia Lent was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (1984-1993) and White Oak Dance Project (1994-1996), and taught elementary school at P.S. 234 in Lower Manhattan (1998-2007). In 2009 she was named a Trustee of the Merce Cunningham Trust and currently serves as the Trust's Director of Licensing. Since joining the Trust, she has initiated and supervised close to one hundred staging projects for professional companies, museums, conservatories, and schools. Lent began teaching technique and repertory workshops at the Merce Cunningham Studio in the late 1980s. In recent years, she has staged 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 MCDC's Legacy Tour. She continues to teach, stage, and conduct workshops in her capacity at the Trust.


Rashaun Mitchell is a choreographer, performer and teacher living and working in NYC. He is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of the 2012 NY Dance and Performance Award (Bessies) for "Outstanding Emerging Choreographer". His work focuses on the creation of new vocabularies for dance performance, with a particular interest in creating polymodal dance in response to complex and active spatial environments. It takes into account its surroundings as a vehicle for communicating particular metaphorical, intertextual, and sense-based aspects of dance and performance. His choreography has been presented by New York Live Arts, Danspace Project, Baryshnikov Arts Center, RECAT, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, La Mama Moves Festival, Mount Tremper Arts, Skirball Center at NYU, the Museum of Arts and Design, and at numerous site- specific venues and universities.

Other awards include a 2007 Princess Grace Award: Dance Fellowship, a 2013 Foundation for Contemporary Art "Grant to Artist", a 2011 "Bessie" Award for "Sustained achievement in the work of Merce Cunningham 2004-2012". He is a Cunningham Fellow and licensed stager of the repertory. Mitchell has been on faculty at Sarah Lawrence College, an artist-in residence at Wellesley College, and has taught master classes throughout the country. With his ongoing collaborator, Silas Riener, he received a 2014 City Center Choreographic Fellowship, was selected for LMCC"s inaugural Extended Life Development Program, and listed in Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch".

Since graduating with a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, Mitchell has done projects with artists Chantal Yzermans, Donna Uchizono, Pam Tanowitz, Risa Jaroslow, Sara Rudner, Jonah Bokaer, Richard Colton, Deborah Hay, Rebecca Lazier, Jodi Melnick, Sara Mearns, Moriah Evans, The Bureau for the Future of Choreography, Anne Carson, Charles Atlas, Xavier Cha, Claudia LaRocco and Silas Riener.


Jeff Seroy is senior vice president, publicity and marketing at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, where in addition to overseeing their publishing activities he edits books on dance. He received his B.A. from Columbia College in 1975 and M.A. from Cambridge University in 1977, and has served on the boards of the Publishers Publicity Association and World Book Night USA, and on advisory boards for the Association of American Publishers, BookExpo America, Literary Hub, and PEN America’s World Voices Festival.

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.