Dance Legend Cunningham Dead at 90

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2009 10:49 AM CDT
In This July 27, 1964 file photo, Merce Cunningham lifts Carolyn Brown during rehearsal at Sadler Wells Theater in London, England.   (AP Photo, File)
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(Newser) – Merce Cunningham, one of the most influential dancers and choreographers of the 20th century, died last night at age 90, the New York Times reports. Hailed as the creator of new classicism, he remained productive to the end; this year saw the premiere of his final work, “Nearly Ninety,” and even on his deathbed he told friends he was still choreographing in his mind.

He also continued to draw critical acclaim, and was routinely called the world’s greatest choreographer. His work forms a link from the inventions of the "mid-Century Moderns," notably Martha Graham, to Twyla Tharp and her rebellious peers, Bloomberg reports. He was also once a uniquely talented dancer; one ballet teacher said Cunningham, Fred Astaire, and Margot Fonteyn were the three best he ever saw.