RIP Merce Cunningham (1919-2009)

Merce Cunningham

A sad day in the world of dance…

Merce Cunningham, the American choreographer who was among a handful of 20th-century figures to make dance a major art and a major form of theater, died Sunday night. He was 90 and lived in Manhattan. []

In April 2009, BAM premeried a new evening-length work by Merce Cunningham created in collaboration with and performed live by Sonic Youth and former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. Some folks may also recall that Radiohead and Sigur Ros played a benefit at BAM for the 50th Anniversary Season of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company back in 2003.

In June of 2009, Mr. Cunningham made public the plans for the future of his company in the eventuality of his death.

Merce Cunningham, the nonagenarian choreographer, is planning for a world without him. He has decided that when he dies, or when the right time comes, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company will embark on a final two-year international tour and then shut down, the Cunningham Dance Foundation, which supports the company, announced on Tuesday.

By other provisions of the plan, the Merce Cunningham Trust will take control of Mr. Cunningham’s dances for licensing purposes; the dancers will each receive a year’s salary as severance and extra money to help find new careers; staff members and the musicians who play for his performances will also receive payments.

The final two-year tour will offer a “triumphant conclusion to the creation phase of Merce’s work,” a document outlining the plan says.

Mr. Cunningham has stipulated that tickets to New York performances should cost $10.