1 at Christopher St.-Sheridan Sq.; A, C, E at 14th St.; L at Eighth Ave.
In 1959, Merce Cunningham introduced his technique—an uncodified, modern style emphasizing parallel movement and torso torques—to dance professionals beyond his company, thereby inaugurating his studio program. Since 1971, his company has operated in Westbeth, a hulking concrete building along the Hudson that also offers subsidized artist housing. Students must make do with the building’s worn, industrial feel and leaky ceiling as they head for the oft-renovated 60-by-60-foot rehearsal space, with its Harlequin sprung panel floor, lofty ceilings, and breathtaking river views. Here Cunningham continues to oversee his thirteen-person troupe as well as the cultivation of would-be repertory members. Classes are accompanied by a musician who works independently of the group’s kinetic concerns, a technique inspired by Cunningham’s famous collaborations with the late musician John Cage. Although the Cunningham Dance Company does not formally perform at Westbeth, an active rental program (which transforms the sunny room into a black-box theater) occupies the space almost every weekend year-round.
Cunningham not only invites school groups to watch his repertory group rehearse but also has even choreographed some kids into his works such as the “Rewarding Lives” dance event, a piece his company performed in the Amex building in 2002.