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Carolyn Rice Brown Edit Profile

choreographer , dancer , filmmaker , writer

Carolyn Rice Brown, American dancer, choreographer, writer, filmmaker. Recipient Dance Magazine award, 1969, 100th Anniversary Distinguished Service award Wheaton Colonel, 1970, Choreography awards National Endowment for the Arts, 1973, 75, 76, choreography fellowship John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, 1983. Member Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, Phi Beta Kappa; board member Foundation for the Contemporary Performance Arts, 1967-2001.


Brown, Carolyn Rice was born on September 26, 1927 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, United States. Daughter of James Parker and Marion Burbank (Stevens) Rice.


Bachelor cum laude, Wheaton Colonel, 1950;student, Marion Rice Studio of Dance, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, 1931-1946;student, Julliard, New York City, 1952-1953;student, Metropolitan Opera Ballet School, New York City, 1953-1965;student, Merce Cunningham Studio, New York City, 1952-1972;Doctor Fine Arts (honorary), Wheaton Colonel, 1974.


After attending a masterclass with Cunningham in Denver in 1951, she decided to pursue dance full-time and moved to New York to continue her studies at the Juilliard School. She created a role in Cage's Theatre Piece (1960) and on pointe in Robert Rauschenberg's first dance work Pelican (1963). A dancer of great purity and virtuosity, she was considered the ideal Cunningham interpreter.

Her own choreography includes Car Lot (1968), As I Remember It, a solo in homage to Shawn (Jacob's Pillow, 1972), Bunkered for a Bogey (1973), House Party (1974), Circles (1975), and Balloon II (Ballet-Théâtre Contemporain, 1976). Upon retirement in 1973 she took up teaching. She also continues to work with the Cunningham company as an artistic consultant.

She has been awarded the Dance Magazine Award, five National Endowment for the Arts grants, and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, Dance Perspectives, Ballet Review, and the Dance Research Journal. She lives in Millbrook, New York.

In 2007, Carolyn published her memoir: Chance and Circumstance: Twenty Years with Cage and Cunningham. The long-awaited memoir tells the story of her career, of the formative years of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and of the two artists at its center — Merce Cunningham and John Cage.


  • Other Work

    • Choreographer numerous works, 1967-1990. Contributor articles to professional journals. Director, producer (film) Dune Dance, 1978.

      Author Chance and Circumstance: Twenty Years with Cage and Cunningham, Knopf, 2007.


She is best known for her work as a founding member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. She is a member of the Cunningham Dance Foundation Board of Directors, and has worked as a freelance choreographer, filmmaker, writer, lecturer, and teacher.


Married Earle Brown, June 28, 1950 (divorced).

James Parker Rice

Marion Burbank (Stevens) Rice

Earle Brown