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Two Weekends of Dance Performances Featuring PHILADANCO! and New Commissioned Work by Pam Tanowitz to Coincide with Final Weeks of Jasper Johns Retrospective

"Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror" runs through February 13, 2022, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Download hi-res images here.

PHILADELPHIA, PA—In January, as the landmark retrospective Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror enters its final weeks, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present two weekends of performances that underscore the artist’s deep and abiding artistic connections to dance. These programs will offer immersive engagement through freshly reinterpreted choreographies closely associated with Johns’s history and through a new work created in honor of the artist that will be presented to the public for the first time. These performances will be free after museum admission and will be seen in Philadelphia only.

January 14–16, the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO!) will perform Philadanco MinEvent, comprising excerpts from dances choreographed by Merce Cunningham and originally designed by Jasper Johns during his tenure as the artistic advisor for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (1967–80). PHILADANCO! dancers will perform in newly constructed costumes fashioned after an original design by Johns. Philadanco MinEvent will be performed with live music by John King and Leyya Mona Tawil.

January 21–23, world-renowned choreographer Pam Tanowitz will present Finally Unfinished (Solo for Melissa for Jasper). Commissioned by the museum and performed by Melissa Toogood, formerly a dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, this work opens on the museum’s first floor near Lenfest Hall and continues down the cantilevered staircase in the Williams Forum, in a powerful choreography that playfully evokes Walkaround Time, the dance that Cunningham created in 1968 as an homage to Marcel Duchamp, with a set by Johns.

Carlos Basualdo, the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, said “Jasper Johns worked as the Artistic Advisor of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for over a decade. His friendship and admiration for Cunningham was long lasting and profoundly inspiring for them both. Many of the compositional strategies of Johns’s work find echoes in the beautifully complex dances of Cunningham. It is especially fitting to be able to present PHILADANCO! performing his work for the first time in an event staged by Patricia Lent with material from a selection of dances first choreographed by Cunningham while Johns was Artistic Advisor. The brilliant Pam Tanowitz joins that conversation with an extraordinary new solo for Melissa Toogood, one of the most talented dancers of her generation.”

Kim Bears-Bailey, Artistic Director of The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO!), said, “It is an honor for PHILADANCO! to perform works by the modern icon Merce Cunningham. At this time PHILADANCO! is celebrating 51 years of existence and the many partnerships we have had throughout the decades. It is befitting and historic that this is now added to our roster of shared collaborations, which merges two Philadelphia treasures together to celebrate the amazing artistry of Jasper Johns presented through the art of dance.”

Choreographer Pam Tanowitz, said of her commissioned work, “Finally Unfinished is a dance always in process, a dance inventing itself as it goes. The museum creates the frame for the dance to live and Jasper Johns’s art is the inspiration…The dance usually tells me what it wants to be. Material happens out of necessity and sometimes by mistake. I like to find ways to incorporate these moments into the design of the dance—little glimpses of humanity within the abstractness of the choreography.”

Performance Schedule

Philadanco MinEvent

Williams Forum, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Duration 20 minutes; Free after museum admission (no reservation required)

• Friday, January 14, at 4:00, 6:00, and 7:00 p.m.

• Saturday, January 15, at 12:00, 1:00, and 3:30 p.m.

• Sunday, January 16, at 12:00, 1:00, and 3:30 p.m.

PHILADANCO! dancers will perform an arrangement of choreographic material drawn from four Cunningham/Johns collaborations: Canfield (1969), Landrover (1972), Un jour ou deux (1973), and Exchange (1978). The MinEvent will be arranged and staged in the Williams Forum by Patricia Lent expressly for the PHILADANCO! dancers.

Canfield (1969): The dance’s title refers to a game of solitaire. Using chance operations to determine the sequence of movements, Cunningham assigned a word indicating a particular movement to each card in the deck, with red and black suits denoting fast and slow movements, respectively. For the original production, Robert Morris designed the set, Jasper Johns designed the costumes, and Pauline Oliveros composed the music.

Landrover (1972): Cunningham said that his image for Landrover was, “people moving in different landscapes. American, perhaps in the sense that we move in our country—across varied spaces—with varied backgrounds.” Johns designed the costumes, which were leotards and tights in various solid colors. The music was a collaborative effort by Cage, David Tudor, and Gordon Mumma.

Un jour ou deux (1973): In 1973 the Paris Festival d’Automne and the Paris International Dance Festival commissioned a new work from Merce Cunningham, to be performed by the Paris Opera Ballet. One of his epic works, the dance consisted, Cunningham wrote, “of a number of separate dance events—solos, duets, trios, quintets, and larger groups.” The music was an orchestral work by John Cage. The costumes and set, both designed by Johns, shaded from dark to light gray

Exchange (1978): Divided into three parts, Exchange began with half of the company in the first part, the other half in the second, and the entire company closing out the third. When asked about the dance, Cunningham said, “I’ve often been struck by the idea of recurrence, ideas, movements, inflections coming back in different guises, never the same; it’s always a new space and a changed moment in time. So I decided to use it in Exchange.” Johns, who designed the set and costumes, said he wanted to use “polluted” colors. The backdrop was painted in gradations of gray; the costumes were in various shades of gray with highlights of green, yellow, pink, and purple.

Choreography by Merce Cunningham
Costumes after the original design by Jasper Johns for Landrover (1972). Costumes adapted and realized by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung, supported by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.
Music composed and performed by John King and Leyya Mona Tawil
Choreography arranged and staged by Patricia Lent
Production consultant Davison Scandrett
Performed by The Philadelphia Dance Company / PHILADANCO!
Dancers: Kaylah Arielle, Janine Beckles, William E. Burden, Mikaela Fenton, Clarricia Golden, Jameel M. Hendricks, Victor Lewis Jr, Floyd McLean Jr, Brandi Pinnix, and Lamar Rogers
Choreography by Merce Cunningham © Merce Cunningham Trust. All rights reserved.

Philadanco MinEvent performed by PHILADANCO! made possible with support from Jessica Berwind, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Additional support provided by the Merce Cunningham Trust. Support for the musical program provided by Anthony B. Creamer III.

Finally Unfinished (Solo for Melissa for Jasper)

Williams Forum, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Duration 20 minutes; Free after museum admission (no reservation required)

• Friday, January 21, at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.

• Saturday, January 22, at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.

• Sunday, January 23, at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.

Finally Unfinished (Solo for Melissa for Jasper) (2021): Choreographer Pam Tanowitz finds multiple parallels between her process and work and that of Jasper Johns. Just as Johns uses collage, Tanowitz makes dances as a hybrid of ballet and modern dance vocabularies, creating a link between beauty and inelegance within a focused and distinct structure. Where Johns uses mixed media, Tanowitz abstracts and combines movement from multiple and contrasting movement genres, layering and texturing until expression emerges. Like Johns, Tanowitz looks to her historical connections for inspiration and kinship. Like Johns, Tanowitz reworks and reorganizes ideas, returning to and re-presenting images and movement previously explored. Through the repeated abstraction, human connection arises.

“For this dance—together with Melissa [Toogood],” Tanowitz explains, “I try to balance the line of narrative and abstraction using form and gestures to express ideas of instability, unpredictability, beauty, struggle in relation to how the past can inform the future in function and effect.”

Choreography by Pam Tanowitz, 2021
Performed by Melissa Toogood
Music by Caroline Shaw originally commissioned for the Vail Dance Festival 2019.
Costumes by Harriet & Reid
Commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Made possible with support from the Daniel W. Dietrich II Fund for Excellence in Contemporary Art, the Fisher Center at Bard courtesy of Jay Franke and David Herro, and The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.


Founded in 1970 by Joan Meyers Brown, the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO!), was created out a need to provide performance opportunities for Black dancers, who were then systematically denied entrance in many local dance schools and had even fewer professional performance outlets. PHILADANCO! has since grown into a professional dance company that is recognized across the nation and around the world for its artistic integrity, superbly trained dancers, and captivating performances. Established on principles of providing opportunity, inclusion, and hope, PHILADANCO! bridges cultural divides and consistently performs before sold-out audiences of people from diverse ethnicities and communities.

About Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham (1919–2009) is widely considered to be one of the most important choreographers of all time. Born in Centralia, Washington, Cunningham attended the Cornish School in Seattle, where he was introduced to the work of Martha Graham (he would later have a six-year tenure as a soloist with her company) and met John Cage, who would become the greatest influence on his practice, his closest collaborator, and his life partner until Cage’s death in 1992. In 1948, Cunningham and Cage began a relationship with the famed experimental institution Black Mountain College, where Cunningham first formed a dance company to explore his convention-breaking ideas. Across his 70-year career, Cunningham proposed a number of radical innovations to how movement and choreography are understood, and sought to find new ways to integrate technology and dance. With long-term collaborations with artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Charles Atlas, and Elliot Caplan, Cunningham’s sphere of influence also extended deep into the visual arts world. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company remained in continuous operation until 2011, with Cunningham as Artistic Director until his death in 2009. Over the course of his career, Cunningham choreographed 180 dances and over 700 Events.

About the Merce Cunningham Trust

The Merce Cunningham Trust preserves, enhances, and maintains the integrity of Cunningham’s artistic work and processes, and makes his works available to the public. Established by Cunningham in 2000, the Trust promotes and shares Cunningham’s artistic legacy by facilitating access to and experience of Cunningham’s work, training dancers in his technique, providing stagers with vital resources to develop their craft, supporting the development of audiences for his work, and fostering creativity directly connected to this legacy by a new generation of practicing artists.

For more, please visit mercecunningham.org

About John King

John King is an acclaimed composer, guitarist, and violist. From 1999 to 2003 he was the music curator at The Kitchen in New York. He then became the co-director of the Music Committee for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, until its closing in 2011. King’s compositions have been performed by the Kronos Quartet, Bang On A Can All-Stars, the New York City Ballet/Diamond Project, and the Stuttgart Ballet, among others. He has written 7 operas and released numerous recordings. In March 2020 he began an online performance series, “Sonic Gatherings,” in collaboration with the former MCDC dancer/choreographer Brandon Collwes. They have presented more than 50 "live” performances involving 70+ musicians and dancers from the global cultural community. Among his many accolades are a Rockefeller Foundation/Bellagio Center Fellow (2016), the Award for Sound/Music from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2014), and the Alpert Award in the Arts for Music (2009).

About Leyya Mona Tawil

Leyya Mona Tawil [Lime Rickey International] is an artist working with sound, performance, and hybrid transmissions. Tawil is a Syrian, Palestinian, American engaged in the world as such. Her work has been presented throughout the states, Europe and the Arab world. Tawil was the 2020 ISSUE Project Room Suzanne Fiol Curatorial Fellow and a 2018 Saari Fellow (Finland). Her work Lime Rickey International’s Future Faith was nominated for a 2019 Bessie Award in Music. In 2021, Tawil was a resident artist with Wysing Art Centre/British Council (UK) and the Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE). She is director of TAC, a venue in Oakland; and Arab.AMP – a platform for experimental art and music from the SWANA diaspora.

About Patricia Lent

Patricia Lent was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1984 to 1993, dancing in more than forty complete works, including Pictures, Fabrications, August Pace, and CRWDSPCR. As a member of White Oak Dance Project (1994–1996) she performed work by Hanya Holm, Mark Morris, Tere O’Connor, and others. After earning a master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education, she taught second and third grade at P.S. 234 in Lower Manhattan (1998–2007). Lent began teaching technique and repertory workshops at the Merce Cunningham Studio in the late 1980s. She has staged Cunningham’s work for numerous schools and companies, including Fabrications for MCDC and Ballet de Lorraine, Scramble for Repertory Dance Theater, Duets for American Ballet Theatre, Channels/Inserts and Exchange for Lyon Opera Ballet, Beach Birds and Change of Address for North Carolina School of the Arts, Roaratorio for MCDC’s Legacy Tour, and most recently Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In 2009, Lent was named a trustee of the Merce Cunningham Trust. She currently serves as the Trust’s Director of Licensing, in which capacity she initiates and supervises staging projects for professional companies, museums, conservatories, schools, and arts organizations worldwide.

About the Foundation for Contemporary Arts

In 1962 Jasper Johns, John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, and other painters and sculptors came together to help Merce Cunningham and his dance company finance a proposed season on Broadway by arranging for a sale of their artworks. Their fundraising efforts were so successful that there was money to spare, which Cunningham suggested could be used to support other artists.

Since its founding by John Cage and Jasper Johns in 1963, the mission of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA) has been to encourage, sponsor, and promote innovative work in the arts created and presented by individuals, groups, and organizations. FCA depends on artists to fund its programs; to date, over 1,000 artists have contributed paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, performances, and videos to help fund grant programs that directly support individual artists working in dance, music/sound, performance art/theater, poetry, and the visual arts.

For more, visit foundationforcontemporaryarts.org

About Pam Tanowitz

Pam Tanowitz is a critically acclaimed choreographer and founder of Pam Tanowitz Dance. The New York–based choreographer has steadily delineated her own dance language through decades of research and creation. She is the first-ever choreographer in residence at the Fisher Center at Bard in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Other honors include a 2020 Doris Duke Artist Award, 2019 Herb Alpert Award, 2017 BAC Cage Cunningham Fellowship, 2016 and 2009 Bessie Awards, 2010 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award, 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, Hodder Fellowship, CBA Fellowship at New York University, and a New York City Center Choreography Fellowship. She has created for Australian Ballet, New York City Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, the Royal Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre, Kennedy Center’s Ballet Across America, Juilliard Dance, Ballet Austin, and New York Theatre Ballet. Originally from New Rochelle, New York, Tanowitz holds degrees from Ohio State University and Sarah Lawrence College, and is a visiting guest artist at Rutgers University.

About Melissa Toogood

Melissa Toogood is a New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie)–winning performer. She is Dancer, Rehearsal Director and Artistic Associate of Pam Tanowitz Dance. She has worked with Tanowitz on works for the Australian Ballet, Ballet Austin, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, The Martha Graham Dance Company, the Juilliard School, Fall for Dance Festival, Vail Dance Festival and others. Toogood worked closely with Merce Cunningham first as an Understudy and then as a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 2005 through the company closure at the end of 2011. She has taught Cunningham Technique internationally since 2007 and is a 2013 and 2015 Merce Cunningham Fellow. She teaches for and is an official Stager for the Merce Cunningham Trust. Toogood has performed with Abraham.In.Motion, Kimberly Bartosik, Michelle Dorrance, Rosie Herrera Dance Theater, Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener, Stephen Petronio Company, Sally Silvers, Christopher Williams, Bill Young, The Bang Group: Tap Lab, Michael Uthoff Dance Theater, and many others. Her own work has been commissioned by Boston Ballet and New York Theater Ballet. She is a native of Sydney, Australia and holds a BFA in Dance Performance from New World School of the Arts, Miami, FL.

About Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror

Organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, Mind/ Mirror is the most comprehensive retrospective to date of the work of Jasper Johns. Structured around the principles of mirroring and doubling that have long been a focus of the artist’s work, this two-part exhibition presented simultaneously at both museums offers an innovative curatorial model for a monographic survey. Following a loose chronological order from the 1950s to the present, Mind/Mirror chronicles Johns’s accomplishments across many mediums—including paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, working proofs, and monotypes—and highlights the complex relationships among them. A single exhibition in two venues, this unprecedented collaboration runs concurrently in Philadelphia and in New York through February 13, 2022.

For more, please visit press.philamuseum.org

About the Curators

The organizing curators are Carlos Basualdo, Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, with Sarah B. Vogelman, Exhibition Assistant, in Philadelphia and Lauren Young, Curatorial Assistant, in New York.

Exhibition Support

This exhibition is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Bank of America is the National Sponsor.



Generous support is provided by Constance Hess Williams and Sankey Williams and Matthew Marks, and through the museum's endowment with the Daniel W. Dietrich II Fund for Excellence in Contemporary Art, the Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Fund for Exhibitions, the Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, and the Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Fund for Exhibitions.

Major support is provided by the museum's Contemporary Art Committee, The Davenport Family Foundation, Ellsworth Kelly Foundation and Jack Shear, Agnes Gund, Leonard and Judy Lauder, Ms. Jennifer S. Rice and Mr. Michael C. Forman, The Sachs Charitable Foundation, Helen and Charles Schwab, and the Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art—including special gifts from the estates of Patricia Sweet Clutz and Phyllys “Fifi” Fleming.

Significant support is provided by Constance R. Caplan, the Robert Lehman Foundation, Marsha and Jeffrey Perelman, and an anonymous donor.

Additional support is provided by Irma and Norman Braman, Clarissa Alcock Bronfman and Edgar Bronfman Jr., Isabel and Agustín Coppel, Roberta and Carl Dranoff, Jaimie and David Field, Kathy and Richard Fuld, Mrs. Ronnie F. Heyman, Linda and George Kelly, Sueyun and Gene Locks, Richard and Nancy Lubin, Susan and James Meyer, Leslie Miller and Richard Worley, Mitchell and Hilarie Morgan Family Foundation, Lyn M. Ross, Howard Sacks and Vesna Todorović Sacks, Katie and Tony Schaeffer, Karen Goodman Tarte, Robbi and Bruce Toll, and two anonymous donors.

The Lenders Lunch was sponsored by Christie's.



The accompanying publication was made possible by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, The Davenport Family Foundation, Barbara Bertozzi Castelli, Jean-Christophe Castelli and Lisa Silver, and Craig F. Starr.

Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror benefited from a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.





In New York, this exhibition is sponsored by Delta.

Credits as of September 20, 2021




Visitors who attend the exhibition at one venue will enjoy half-price adult admission at the other when presenting their ticket. And throughout the duration of the exhibition, members of each institution will receive free admission at both venues.

To redeem the reciprocal offer, visitors can reserve up to two $12 adult tickets and unlimited free tickets for children aged 18 & younger per visit between September 29, 2021–February 13, 2022, via an online ticketing link included on the ticket of full-priced admission tickets from the reciprocal museum. Visitors are encouraged to reserve tickets in advance of their visit.
Members of both museums will receive special access to reserve up to 2 free adult tickets and unlimited free tickets for children aged 18 & younger per visit to the reciprocal museum during the public dates of the exhibition, September 29, 2021–February 13, 2022. Members are encouraged to reserve in advance of their visit.

Tickets are now available for advance reservation at philamuseum.org and whitney.org.

About the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia’s art museum. A place that welcomes everyone. A world-renowned collection. A landmark building. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

Social Media @philamuseum

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art by phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at pressroom@philamuseum.org. The Museum is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call 215-763-8100.

About the Whitney

The Whitney Museum of American Art, founded in 1930 by the artist and philanthropist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875–1942), houses the foremost collection of American art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Mrs. Whitney, an early and ardent supporter of modern American art, nurtured groundbreaking artists at a time when audiences were still largely preoccupied with the Old Masters. From her vision arose the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has been championing the most innovative art of the United States for ninety years. The core of the Whitney’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit American art of our time and serve a wide variety of audiences in celebration of the complexity and diversity of art and culture in the United States. Through this mission and a steadfast commitment to artists themselves, the Whitney has long been a powerful force in support of modern and contemporary art and continues to help define what is innovative and influential in American art today.

For additional information, contact the Whitney Museum Press Office at pressoffice@whitney.org or 212-570-3633.

Social Media @whitneymuseum