Blondell Cummings

Blondell Cummings (1944–2015)

Dancer and choreographer Blondell Cummings died on Sunday, according to the New York Times’ Margalit Fox. Combining dance, theater, mime, spoken word, and video, Cummings had presented her work in venues including MoMA PS 1, the Joyce Theater in Manhattan, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

“Cummings is one of the most acute performers around,” Jennifer Dunning wrote in the New York Times, reviewing Cumming’s 1984 collaboration with writer Jessica Hagedorn, set to the words of the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu.

A 1981 solo piece titled Chicken Soup was perhaps her best-known work, based on childhood memories of her grandmother in the kitchen, and incorporating a soundtrack with music by Meredith Monk, Collin Walcott, and Brian Eno. The National Endowment for the Arts officially named the performance an American masterpiece in 2006.

Cummings taught at Lincoln Center Institute, City College of New York, New York University, and Cornell University. She was also founder and artistic director of the Cycle Arts Foundation, an arts collaborative.