Marianne Preger-Simon, Merce Cunningham Company: Black Mountain Beginnings, Summer 1953. Photocopy of drawings (copies). Collection of Black Mountain  College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.

Marianne Preger-Simon (Student 1953 Summer Session) (b.1929)

Dancer and author Marianne Preger-Simon was one of Merce Cunningham’s first students in New York, working one-on-one with the choreographer in 1950 and joining the company upon its founding at Black Mountain College in 1953. The photographs and sketches from that summer show the small but dedicated group of dancers who came together that summer. Preger-Simon would dance with the company through 1958. In 2019, she released her memoir, Dancing With Merce, to much critical acclaim. The memoir offers an intimate look at her friendship with Cunningham, the evolution of the company, and her career as a dancer.

Above: Merce Cunningham and founding company dancers Viola Farber, Carolyn Brown, Paul Taylor, Remy Charlip and Debby Moskowitz photographed by Marianne Preger-Simon

Drawings by Marianna Preger-Simon: (Top, left to right) Carolyn Brown, Remy Charlip, Jo Anne Melsher

(Bottom, left to right) Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham, John Cage