Merce Cunningham – 1919–
Cunningham began to study dance from age 12 and joined Martha Graham’s dance troupe in 1939. He began choreographing for her in the 1940s and pushed the limits of modern choreography by developing dances of pure movement, removed from programmatic or narrative implications. From this, he went on to create “choreography by chance,” in which dances were created from a vocabulary of movements, which were assigned sequence random methods, including the toss of a coin. Cunningham founded his own dance company in 1952.