Influential and innovative choreographer Merce Cunningham died in his sleep last night, Bloomberg reports. He was 90. In a career that spans seven decades, Cunningham frequently collaborated with avant-garde composer John Cage, who was Cunningham’s life partner until Cage’s death in 1992. After studying under the great Martha Graham, Cunningham established the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1953.
Since its inception, the MCDC also worked with artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, composers like Gavin Bryars and musicians like Radiohead and Sigur Ros, who collaborated with Cunningham on 2003’s Split Sides (An excerpt of Split Sides is above.) Recently, Rock Daily was on hand when Cunningham staged his piece Nearly Ninety at Brooklyn’s Academy of Music. The piece featured musical performances by Sonic Youth and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones.
Just last month, Cunningham announced plans to establish the Legacy Plan, which would allow the world to “celebrate Cunningham’s creative achievements and to ensure that present and future generations of students, scholars, artists, and audiences will be able to study and enjoy the work of this groundbreaking artist” after Cunningham was no longer able to serve as Artistic Director of his MCDC. The plan calls for a world tour as well as one final performance of Cunningham’s works in New York City before the MCDC is handed over to the Merce Cunningham Trust, which will serve as rights holder of Cunningham’s works. Digital documents of Cunningham’s oeuvre will also be preserved. The Legacy Plan is considered the first of its kind in the dance world, according to its official Website.