Georgiana Pickett & Shayla-Vie Jenkins Join Merce Cunningham Trust

Georgiana Pickett & Shayla-Vie Jenkins Join Merce Cunningham Trust

Published on October 19, 2020
John Cage and Merce Cunningham, 1971. Photo © James Klosty

This Brings the Number of Trustees to Nine

Dancer/educator Shayla-Vie Jenkins and arts administrator/consultant Georgiana Pickett have joined the Merce Cunningham Trust, bringing the number of Trustees to nine. The expansion adds new voices and expertise to leading the pioneering choreographer’s legacy into the future. 

Shayla-Vie Jenkins, Trustee since 2020, Faculty at University of the Arts. Photo © Merce Cunningham Trust

Jenkins, who performed in Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event at BAM, danced professionally with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, for which she also stages work. She has also performed with artists including Susan Marshall and Yara Travieso and has presented her own work in numerous New York venues. Jenkins is an Assistant Professor in the School of Dance at the University of the Arts and regularly teaches at the American Dance Festival and NYU’s Summer Dance intensive. She is a graduate of the Fordham Ailey Dance program.

Jenkins said of her appointment to the Board of Trustees, I was fortunate to be asked to perform in the Merce Cunningham Night of 100 Solos, which gave me the opportunity to inhabit and witness up-close the remarkable movement.  As a new trust member, I am excited to bring an outside perspective and Black female voice to an ongoing conversation of how to imagine the Cunningham legacy into the future.”

Georgina Pickett. Photo © Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC)

The arts consultant Georgiana Pickett was Executive Director of Baryshnikov Arts Center for eight years (2011-2019), during which time she oversaw major initiatives at including the establishment of the Cage-Cunningham Award and the Cage-Cunningham Studio. Pickett has extensive leadership experience, having previously served as Artistic Director of Miami-Dade College’s Cultural Affairs Department and Executive Director of 651 Arts in Brooklyn. She has been a panelist and/or consultant for many organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford and Doris Duke Charitable Foundations, and the New York State Council for the Arts. 

Pickett said, “I am looking forward to digging into this dynamic phase of the Cunningham Trust’s work that will continue its already impeccable record of carrying the Cunningham legacy forward, while now broadening its programs to include new students, scholars, dancers and communities.”

The Trust also announces today that Trevor Carlson, a Trustee since 2011 and, previously, the final executive director of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, has stepped down. While at the helm of the company, Carlson was the driving force behind the design and implementation of its groundbreaking legacy plan. Over the past decade, he played an active role in building the Trust’s activities, culminating in his pivotal role as producer of last year’s Cunningham Centennial and as creative producer of its centerpiece, Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event. With that production, staged in London, New York, and Los Angeles on Cunningham’s 100th birthday (April 16, 2019), the Trust set out to broaden the performance of Cunningham choreography to include dancers from a wide range of backgrounds, practices, and companies.

Ken Tabachnick, Executive Director of the Merce Cunningham Trust, said, “We are thrilled to welcome new Trustees Shayla-Vie and Georgiana. Their experience and perspective will greatly enrich our ongoing conversation about how to continue the Cunningham legacy into the future with relevance and value to the public. We are also deeply grateful to Trevor, who has made an immeasurable contribution to this work.”

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