Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) always tested boundaries, explored new territories, and questioned his surroundings. From the formation of his company in the early 1950s at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, to the beginning of the 21st century, he remained a leading force in American contemporary culture, significantly shaping the public perception of contemporary dance. Born in Centralia, WA, Cunningham received his first formal dance and theater training at the Cornish School (now Cornish College of the Arts) in Seattle. From 1939 to 1945, he was a soloist in Martha Graham's company. During that time, he began to choreograph independently, presenting his first solo concert in New York with John Cage in April 1944. In the summer of 1953, he founded the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, for which he choreographed over 200 works. In 2000, the Library of Congress recognized Merce Cunningham as a Living Legend for his lasting contribution to enriching our national heritage. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company made the first of its many groundbreaking BAM appearances in 1952. In 2011, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company gave some of its final performances in a three-part program over four days at BAM as part of its Legacy Tour.