(1919-2009) was a leader of the American avant-garde throughout his seventy-year career and is considered one of the most important choreographers of our time. Through much of his life, he was also one of the greatest American dancers. With an artistic career distinguished by constant innovation, Cunningham expanded the frontiers not only of dance, but also of contemporary visual and performing arts. His collaborations with artistic innovators from every creative discipline have yielded an unparalleled body of American dance, music, and visual art.
Of all his collaborations, Cunningham’s work with John Cage, his life partner from the 1940s until Cage’s death in 1992, had the greatest influence on his practice. Together, Cunningham and Cage proposed a number of radical innovations. The most famous and controversial of these concerned the relationship between dance and music, which they concluded may occur in the same time and space, but should be created independently of one another. The two also made extensive use of chance procedures, abandoning not only musical forms, but narrative and other conventional elements of dance composition—such as cause and effect, and climax and anticlimax. For Cunningham the subject of his dances was always dance itself.
Born in Centralia, Washington on April 16, 1919, Cunningham began his professional modern dance career at 20 with a six-year tenure as a soloist in the Martha Graham Dance Company. In 1944 he presented his first solo show and in 1953 formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as a forum to explore his groundbreaking ideas. Over the course of his career, Cunningham choreographed more than 150 dances and over 800 “Events.” Dancers who trained with Cunningham and have gone on to form their own companies include Paul Taylor, Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Karole Armitage, Foofwa d’Immobilité, and Jonah Bokaer.
Cunningham’s lifelong passion for exploration and innovation made him a leader in applying new technologies to the arts. He began investigating dance on film in the 1970s, and choreographed using the computer program DanceForms during the latter part of his career. He explored motion capture technology to create décor for BIPED (1999), and his interest in new media led to the creation of Mondays with Merce (www.merce.org/mondayswithmerce.html). This webcast series provides a never-before-seen look at the Company and Cunningham’s teaching technique with video of advanced technique class, Company rehearsal, archival footage, and interviews with current and former Company members, choreographers, and collaborators.
An active choreographer and mentor to the arts world until his death at the age of 90, Cunningham earned some of the highest honors bestowed in the arts. Among his many awards are the National Medal of Arts (1990) and the MacArthur Fellowship (1985). He also received the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award in 2009, Japan’s Praemium Imperiale in 2005, the British Laurence Olivier Award in 1985, and was named Officier of the Legion d’Honneur in France in 2004. Cunningham’s life and artistic vision have been the subject of four books and three major exhibitions, and his works have been presented by groups including the Ballet of the Paris Opéra, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, White Oak Dance Project, and London’s Rambert Dance Company.
Cunningham passed away in his New York City home on July 26, 2009. Always forward-thinking, Cunningham developed the precedent-setting Legacy Plan prior to his death to guide his Company and ensure the preservation of his artistic legacy.
was a professor in the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of South Florida for 27 years where she taught modern dance technique, choreography,
kinesiology and Laban Movement Analysis. She retired in the spring of 2010. Lynne
received a BFA from the Juilliard School in New York City, an MFA from the University
of Utah and is a Certified Laban Movement Analyst. Her professional performance
career included nine years as a member of Repertory Dance Theater, and a year and a
half with the Ballets Felix Blaska in Paris France, and she directed her own company for
five years. Lynne has received two Fulbright Lecturer awards to teach and choreograph
in Mexico and Costa Rica and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and arts
councils in Florida, Pennsylvania and Utah.
Her choreography has been performed by Repertory Dance Theater, the Tampa/Colorado
Ballet, Moving Current Dance Collective and The Juilliard Dance Ensemble as well as
companies in Europe, Costa Rica, Mexico and Canada. Her current research lies in the fields of dance for camera and videography. She
has designed video for several choreographers in the Tampa area, has edited three
documentaries for Jewish Family Services of Utah and is working on a documentary of Bill T. Jones.
(1912-1992) John Cage was born on September 5, 1912 in Los Angeles,
California and died in New York City on August 12, 1992. He studied liberal arts atPomona College. Among his composition teachers were Henry Cowell and Arnold
Schoenberg. Cage was elected to the American National Academy and Institute of Arts
and Letters and received innumerable awards and honors both in the United States and in
He was commissioned by a great many of the most important performing organizations
throughout the world, and maintained a very active schedule. It would be extremely
difficult to calculate, let alone critically evaluate, the stimulating effect and ramifications
that Cage's work has had on 20th century music and art, for it is clear that the musical
developments of our time cannot be understood without taking into account his music
and ideas. His invention of the prepared piano and his work with percussion instruments
led him to imagine and explore many unique and fascinating ways of structuring the
temporal dimension of music. He is universally recognized as the initiator and leading figure in the field of
indeterminate composition by means of chance operations. Arnold Schoenberg said of
Cage that he was an "inventor – of genius".
(1893 – 1961)
Born in 1893 to a progressive Japanese family, Ito studied and performed in Europe
and the United States during the flowering of new art in the early 20th century. He was
celebrated as one of a boundary-crossing generation that brought about the literary,
musical and artistic breakthroughs of modernism; and the eclectic beginnings of
American modern dance.
In 1916 Ito moved to New York where he spent twelve years continuing to develop his
own dance technique. His eclectic study led him to develop an approach to dance that
was a combination of both “Eastern” and “Western” art. Ito's early salon dances and
dance-poems represent a synthesis of Japanese Noh and Kabuki, characteristic gestures
drawn from Oriental and Western cultures, and the disciplined musicality of Emile
Jaques-Dalcroze. Like his contemporaries, the modern dance forerunners Ruth St. Denis,
Ted Shawn, and Isadora Duncan, he made dances from a broad spectrum of sources
rather than adhering to the conventions of classical ballet.
Ito’s technique included ten symbolic gestures of the arms which he compared to the 12
notes on a piano. He used these positions with variations of plane, angle, context and
rhythm to present an endless variety of dances. His emphasis was on the distillation of
emotion, inner concentration and incisive gesture. The Ito method emphasizes integrating
breathing, developing rhythmic awareness and coordination. It demands focus on
expressive intent, whether it is simply a specific quality of movement or a dramatic idea.
Ito’s career in the United States came to an unfortunate end during World War II. Twenty
four hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was sent to a Japanese internment camp
and later chose repatriation to Japan as part of a prisoner exchange rather than continued
imprisonment. After the war, the American Occupation command appointed him head
choreographer of the US army run theatre in Tokyo where he supervised production for the American troops. He resided in Tokyo until his death in 1961.
is a native of Ogden, Utah. He attended public school and Weber State
College where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre. He then went on to
Penn State where he did three years work on a Master’s Degree in acting.
Bill then pursued a career as an actor, finding work with the Long Beach Repertory
Company; the State Theatre of Florida at Asolo; the Barn Dinner Theatre in
Roanoke,Virginia; the Utah Shakespearean Festival: as well as work off-off Broadway
in NewYork City. Bill’s acting has also included a role in Saturday’s Voyeur at the Salt
Lake Acting Company; and as Pozzo in Waiting For Godot at the Rose Wagner Theater.
Bill also played the role of Vicious in the Trent Harris film, Delightful Water Universe.
Since 1980, Bill’s full time job has been in Radio. He has worked at KJQ and has
beenwith X-96 (KXRK 96.3 FM) since it’s inception. At X-96, Bill is part of the Radio
From Hell Show, with Kerry Jackson and Gina Barberi, weekday mornings from 6:00-
10am. Bill is married to the talented graphic designer Jennifer Parsons. He has four children:Old
Little Bill and Old Little Mrs. Bill and Little Bill and Little Mrs. Bill.