Dance New Amsterdam is excited to be one of three homes to Cunningham Technique™.
5:30 - 7:00pm
1:30 - 3:00pm
Cunningham Technique™ is a rigorous, but not codified, training technique for dancers, which places an emphasis on acquiring strength, clarity, and precision. The Elementary level is for students new to the Cunningham Technique™, but who also have an understanding of basic dance training. Students will learn exercises for the back and how to make changes of weight, as well as combinations of back positions and weight changes in moving phrases. This class focuses on the basic techniques of moving clearly in place and in space. Dancers are expected to have a strong sense of center and display clear shapes of movement.
Elementary level is for students new to the Cunningham Technique™ who have had previous dance training. Students learn the exercises for the back, how to make changes of weight, and combinations of back positions and weight changes in moving phrases. This class focuses on the basic techniques of moving clearly in place and in space. Dancers are expected to have a strong sense of center and display clear shapes of movement.
“My purpose has not been to make a technique but to make exercises which are useful for the purpose of training dancers. Dance technique is flexible. The whole point in art, in life, is flexibility.” -Merce Cunningham
Rotating Faculty include:
Emma Desjardins grew up and began her dance training in Providence, RI. She moved to NY in 1999 to attend Barnard College where she trained and performed with their dance department. After graduating cum laude in 2003, she began her studies at the Merce Cunningham Studio. She became a member of the CDF Repertory Understudy Group in 2004 and was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from January 2006 through December 2011. Emma has been teaching Cunningham Technique since 2009. She has also danced in multiple projects with choreographer Anne Zuerner.
John Hinrichs performed with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 2009-2011 and participated in the company’s farewell Legacy Tour. He had the privilege of working with Merce to create his last dance, Nearly Ninety (and Nearly Ninety^2) (2009) as a member of the Cunningham Repertory Understudy Group. In New York, John has also danced with Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theatre, Randy James Dance Works and Robert Wood Dance New York. He studied dance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and graduated with a BS in mathematics. His new website, mydancemastermind.com, compiles the collective knowledge of professional modern dancers- from major companies to freelancers- in the areas of technique, performance, training and career.
Daniel Madoff was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 2007 to its conclusion in 2011. He initially joined as an understudy in 2005. While there, he had the pleasure of working closely with Mr. Cunningham on four new creations and many reconstructions, often performing the roles Merce created for himself. He also had the honor of performing and setting one of Mr. Cunningham’s earliest solos, Totem Ancestor, which he rehearsed extensively with Merce. Before arriving at MCDC, Daniel was briefly a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company. Daniel received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from SUNY Purchase in June 2006 where he performed seminal works by Paul Taylor, George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham, and Kazuko Hirabayashi. Before that, he trained at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, Tisch School of the Arts, and Carver Center for the Performing Arts. In 2005, he traveled to Mexico to dance the role of “Mephisto” in Ms. Hirabayashi’s Faust. In 2006, he helped to re-stage the male quartet from Paul Taylor’s Cloven Kingdom, which he performed in Hong Kong. In 2010, he assisted in the reconstruction of Sacred Things, by Wallie Wolfgruber at Purchase College. In 2012 he set a Cunningham “MinEvent” in Paris, on students of the New York Dance International Summer Program under the direction of Kazuko Hirabayashi. Daniel teaches technique classes at the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio, and has taught master classes and workshops in New York, Washington D.C., Paris, and Mexico City. He continues to dance for Kazuko Hirabayashi, Nelly van Bommel, Christopher Williams, Robert Wood, and Pam Tanowitz.
Krista Nelson is from Champaign, Illinois. She holds a BFA in Dance with high honors from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has worked with choreographer Catherine Tharin since 2006. Krista completed the 92nd St Y’s Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) program and subsequently taught children’s ballet classes at the Y. She also worked at the 92nd St Y as production manager and co-curator of Fridays at Noon from 2007-2009. Krista joined the Cunningham Dance Foundation Repertory Understudy Group in May 2008, and was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from February 2010 until its closure in December 2011. She is currently a student in the post baccalaureate program at Columbia University with plans to enter a Ph.D. program in neuropsychology.
Robert Swinston was born in Pittsburgh, PA, and attended Middlebury College and The Juilliard School, where he received a BFA in Dance. He danced with the Martha Graham Apprentice Company, the José Limón Dance Company, and with Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theatre. He joined Merce Cunningham Dance Company in August 1980 and became Assistant to the Choreographer in July 1992. Since Merce Cunningham’s death in July 2009, Robert has been the Director of Choreography, overseeing the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the CDF Repertory Understudy Group and its work with the Cunningham Educational Outreach Program. Since 1998, he has overseen many Cunningham archival reconstructions for MCDC and has staged Cunningham works on other companies, including Boston Ballet, White Oak Dance Project, Rambert Dance Company, and New York City Ballet. In 2003, Swinston received a New York Dance and Performance Award for Sustained Achievement in Performance (“Bessie”) Award. In 2009, Swinston was named a Trustee for the Merce Cunningham Trust.
Melissa Toogood was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company; her tenure included the highly acclaimed Legacy Tour. She began working with Merce as a member of the CDF Repertory Understudy Group in November 2005. A faculty member at the Merce Cunningham Studio since 2007, she is now on faculty at DNA and City Center and during the Fall of 2012 was a guest professor at Bard College. Melissa has assisted Robert Swinston in repertory workshops in New York and London and has taught master classes in Toronto, Miami, Minneapolis, the Martha Graham School, NYU and in her native city of Sydney, Australia. She was a founding member of Miro Dance Theatre, Michael Uthoff Dance Theatre and has performed with Robert Wood Dance and in collaboration with writer Anne Carson. Melissa earned a BFA in Dance Performance from New World School of the Arts, Miami, FL under Dean Daniel Lewis. She is currently performing with Pam Tanowitz Dance, Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener Dance, The Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre and projects sponsored by the Merce Cunningham Trust. Melissa is a 2013 Merce Cunningham Trust Fellow.
Andrea Weber was a dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company through its final eight years, performing roles in over 25 works. Andrea received her BFA from The Juilliard School under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy. She has danced and taught for Canadian-based Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, participating in the Manitoba and Gros Morne Projects, and returned to Canada this summer to perform in Banff National Park. Andrea appears as the Dancer in THE DANCER FILMS, a series of very short films based on the cartoons of Jules Feiffer, directed by Judy Dennis and produced by Ellen Dennis, with choreography by Susan Marshall and Larry Keigwin. She has assisted and staged Lila York’s works on ballet companies throughout the United States and in Denmark. Andrea was a collaborator in Anne Carson’s POSSESSIVE USED AS DRINK (ME) and has also danced with Jessica Lang, Jonah Bokaer, and Charlotte Griffin. She is on faculty for the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio and has taught at Brown University and ADF.