On This Gay Day: In 2009 choreographer Merce Cunningham died

For over 50 years Merce Cunningham was at the forefront on modern dance

Innovative choreographer Merce Cunningham died on this day in 2009. He was 90 years old at the time of his passing and had forged a remarkable career in the world of dance.

Cunningham often collaborated with artists from other disciplines, forging links between dance, choreographers, painters and fashion designers. Many of the dancers who worked with him went on to create their own companies.

Amongst his collaborators were musicians John Cage, David Tudor and Brain Eno. He also worked with painters including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns.

Cunningham was born in Washington state in 1919 and named Mercier by his parents. He entered the world of dance as a child, his first love was tap dancing. After studying acting at college, he moved to New York in 1939 and joined Martha Graham’s dance company.

In 1944 he presented his first solo work, a collaboration with composer John Cage. Cage would become his professional and romantic partner, and the two continued to collaborate until Cage’s death in 1992.

Cunningham continued to create new dance works until just a few months before his death.

OIP Staff


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