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Merce Cunningham Trust Endows New Scholarship in Dance

A generous grant from the Merce Cunningham Trust and matching funds from the J2 Scholarship Challenge Grant for Student Success have come together in the form of a new endowed scholarship that will provide relief to an aspiring upper-level (junior or senior) artist who is in danger of not finishing their dance degree at Purchase College due to financial pressure.

Announced this week in commemoration of the famed American modern dancer and choreographer’s 103rd birthday, the Merce Cunningham Endowed Scholarship Fund for Dance is the latest effort undertaken by the Trust to support the future of the dance field and the artists and administrators who will envision and realize it.

Ken Tabachnick, Executive Director of the Merce Cunningham Trust and former Dean of the School of the Arts at Purchase College, SUNY, said the scholarship “builds on recent strategic efforts by the Merce Cunningham Trust to increase its impact not only by expanding access to Cunningham’s body of work specifically, but also—in keeping with Cunningham’s belief in collaboration, and in empowering other artists—by providing critical support to young dancers and dance professionals. The Trust is making these investments in the future of the field as part of its mission to maintain and keep relevant the legacy of Merce Cunningham by sharing it with the public.”

The Cunningham legacy enjoys a long and fruitful partnership with Purchase College, which began when Mel Wong, a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC), taught in the Dance Department’s earliest days. Cunningham dancer Carolyn Brown was Dean of the college’s Conservatory of Dance from 1980-82. Over the years, more than 20 Purchase alumni danced in MCDC or with the Repertory Understudy Group, and 19 MCDC members have taught at Purchase. Many Purchase students have also participated in Merce Cunningham Trust classes and workshops, and in special projects including the monumental 2019 event Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event, for which the Trust invited performers of vastly diverse genres and backgrounds to perform Cunningham solos.

“There was a steady pipeline from Purchase College to the Company until the MCDC closed,” said Tabachnick.

Funds provided by the Trust were matched by a gift from Purchase College chemistry alumnus John Ambroseo ’83 and his wife, Jeanette LaCorte, via the J2 Scholarship Challenge Grant for Student Success.

About the Merce Cunningham Trust
The Merce Cunningham Trust was established by Merce Cunningham in 2000 and recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation in 2002. The Trust serves as the custodian of the work of Merce Cunningham and its mission is to preserve, enhance, and maintain the integrity of that choreographic and other artistic work, and make such works available for the benefit of the public. In 2012, the Trust established headquarters at New York’s City Center.

The Trust offers a program of classes and activities, including daily classes in Cunningham Technique® at New York’s City Center and the Cunningham Fellowship, awarded to former Company members to reconstruct a Cunningham work during a multi-week intensive workshop. The Trust licenses Cunningham works to leading dance companies and educational institutions worldwide, and partners with cultural institutions to mount special projects, performances, and exhibitions that celebrate Cunningham’s artistic achievements.

About the J2 Scholarship Challenge Grant for Student Success
Purchase College Chemistry alumnus John Ambroseo ’83 and his wife, Jeanette LaCorte, honored retiring Purchase College President Thomas J. Schwarz and his 17 years of service by establishing in 2018 a matching grant that would inspire corporations and foundations to generously support student scholarships. The J2 Scholarship Challenge Grant for Student Success has exceeded its goal by raising more than $1,100,000 in scholarship funds for 17 new scholarship funds that have been created for Purchase College students across a broad range of academic programs.