Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) was an American dancer and choreographer who was at the forefront of American modern dance for more than 50 years. He is also notable for his frequent collaborations with artists of other disciplines, including musicians John Cage and David Tudor and artists Robert Rauschenberg and Bruce Nauman.
Cunningham formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC) at Black Mountain College in 1953. Guided by its leader's radical approach to space, time, and technology, MCDC forged a distinctive style, reflecting Cunningham’s technique and illuminating the near limitless possibility for human movement. The company frequently collaborated with visual artists, architects, designers, and musicians. Many of Cunningham's most famous innovations were developed in collaboration with composer John Cage, his life partner. He choreographed almost two hundred works for his company, including “Suite for Five” (1956-1958), “Ocean” (1994), and “eyeSpace” (2007).
Portrait by Annie Leibovitz.