Merce Cunningham Trust’s new Exec. Dir.

New Merce Cunningham Trust Executive DirectorThe Merce Cunningham Trust (MCT), founded to preserve and extend the artistic legacy of choreographer Merce Cunningham, recently announced that Ken Tabachnick has been named its new Executive Director. Tabachnick, who has held executive and leadership positions at major New York educational and cultural institutions, including New York University and New York City Ballet, will oversee all operations of the Trust and will be instrumental in planning the Merce Cunningham Centenary celebrations, slated for 2018–2020.


Tabachnick comes to MCT with three decades of diverse and extensive leadership in the performing arts, including roles in higher education and non-profit management, as well as the provision of design, legal, and business services for some of the country’s major cultural organizations. Most recently, he was an independent consultant and a senior associate at AEA Consulting, working with such clients as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Film, and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. He has served as Deputy Dean of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, as Dean of the School of the Arts at Purchase College (where he oversaw the Conservatories of Music, Dance, Theatre and the School of Art+Design), and as General Manager of New York City Ballet. Tabachnick has also served on the board of directors of several arts organizations, including the Stephen Petronio Company and Dance/USA.


“We are delighted to welcome Ken Tabachnick, who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in arts management and strategic planning to the role of Executive Director,” said Trevor Carlson, a trustee of MCT. “Ken’s long commitment to dance, as well as his broad financial and business acumen, will be invaluable as we plan the Trust’s future programs and activities.”


Tabachnick stated, “I am thrilled to join the Merce Cunningham Trust in honoring the legacy of one of the most important and influential artists of our time. I look forward to working with the Trust in furthering its mission and goals, including organizing the Centenary celebration, and working with the trustees into the future.”


Tabachnick begins his role at MCT on November 28, 2016. He will succeed Lynn Wichern, who has served as Executive Director since 2012.


A New York native, Tabachnick began his career as a lighting designer for some of the most prestigious dance and opera companies, including the Bolshoi Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Trisha Brown Company, Stephen Petronio Company, Robert Wilson, and New York City Opera, among others. He received his J.D. from Fordham Law School in 1996, and from 1997 to 2004, maintained a solo practice in New York City, serving a variety of clients including online ventures, directors, writers, designers, and producers.


He’ll work to further the reach and influence of the MCT, which was established by Merce Cunningham himself in 2000. Since 2012, the MCT offices have resided at New York City Center. Staff members oversee the licensing of Cunningham’s choreography and administer programs related to the preservation and promotion of Cunningham’s legacy worldwide. Over the last four years, MCT has worked with 35 professional companies and museums, and more than 50 schools.


MCT offers daily Cunningham Technique classes at City Center and hosts periodic intensive workshops taught by former Merce Cunningham Dance Company dancers. MCT supports the training and preparation of current and future stagers of Cunningham’s work through the Cunningham Fellowship Program. Cunningham Fellows are awarded funds to study and reconstruct Cunningham repertory during intensive workshops with select dancers. The workshops are free for participating dancers, with stipends awarded to exceptional dancers. Each workshop culminates in a free public studio showing, now live-streamed in partnership with NYU’s Tisch Dance and New Media Program. To date, MCT has awarded 28 Cunningham Fellowships, and included more than 300 dancers in its intensive workshops.


MCT supports key university dance programs, initiating gifts to underwrite the teaching of Cunningham Technique and repertory within the university setting. Cunningham Technique and repertory are currently taught at numerous universities and conservatories, including Purchase College, State University of New York, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, The Juilliard School, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, CNSMD Paris, and CNDC Angers.


MCT has also financed the sorting and cataloguing of the Cunningham Archive at the New York Library for the Performing Arts. MCT has located and digitized two lost Cunningham films, as well as secured distribution rights for another 10 archival films. MCT sustains educators, researchers and curators through the ongoing maintenance and improvement of the Merce Cunningham Dance Capsules, its digital technology platform, and through social media, film resources, and live-streaming initiatives.


For more information on the MCT, visit