Merce Cunningham Trust


Ken Tabachnick, Executive Director

Patricia Lent, Director of Licensing

Jennifer Goggans, Program Coordinator

Keary Champi, Administrative Assistant

Benjamin Houtman, Audiovisual Archivist

Daniel Madoff, Media Director


Scholar in Residence:  Nancy Dalva




Ken Tabachnick brings a diverse background and experience to his position as executive director. He originally trained as a lighting designer, and worked with Trisha Brown, Robert Wilson, Beverly Emmons, New York City Opera, Live from Lincoln Center, the Paris Opera Ballet, and the Bolshoi and Kirov companies, amongst others. In the 1990s, Ken was responsible for corporate fundraising and producing the IFP Gotham Awards while he attended law school. In 1996 he received his J.D. from Fordham Law School and then had his own law practice specializing in intellectual property, licensing, and other matters related to the arts. During this period he also served as general counsel for Rising Tide Studios and was managing member of indieWIRE LLC, a news publisher focused on the independent film sector. In 2004 he was appointed general manager of New York City Ballet, where he oversaw all operations until 2010. Subsequently, Ken was dean of the School of the Arts at Purchase College, SUNY, and deputy dean at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Most recently, he has been a senior associate with AEA Consulting, specializing in strategic planning for arts and cultural organizations. Ken continues to serve as a trustee of arts organizations and is currently treasurer of the Stephen Petronio Company and the Hemsley Lighting Programs, and is vice-chair of Westbeth Artists’ Housing, which housed the Cunningham studio for many years. Ken holds a 3rd Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo and teaches regularly.

Patricia Lent, Trustee and Director of Licensing

Patricia Lent was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (1984-1993) and White Oak Dance Project (1994-1996), and taught elementary school at P.S. 234 in Lower Manhattan (1998-2007). In 2009 she was named a Trustee of the Merce Cunningham Trust and currently serves as the Trust's Director of Licensing. Since joining the Trust, she has initiated and supervised close to one hundred staging projects for professional companies, museums, conservatories, and schools. Lent began teaching technique and repertory workshops at the Merce Cunningham Studio in the late 1980s. In recent years, she has staged Cunningham's work for numerous schools and companies, including Fabrications for Ballet de Lorraine, Scramble for Repertory Dance Theater, Duets for American Ballet Theatre, Channels/Inserts for Lyon Opera Ballet, Beach Birds for North Carolina School of the Arts, and Roaratorio for MCDC's Legacy Tour. She continues to teach, stage, and conduct workshops in her capacity at the Trust.

Jennifer Goggans, PROGRAM Coordinator

Jennifer Goggans began dancing in her hometown of Owensboro, KY, and continued her studies at the Nutmeg Ballet in Connecticut. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from SUNY Purchase in 2000 and joined the Merce Cunningham Dance Company that same year. Goggans danced with MCDC until the company's planned closure in 2011 and was named Assistant to the Director of Choreography during the company's Legacy Tour. Goggans has been teaching Cunningham Technique since 2005 and has taught master classes and workshops throughout the United States and across Europe. In addition, she has staged various Cunningham works including Cross Currents (1964) for the Augusta Ballet, Verb Ballet and the New York Theater Ballet, and also Winterbranch (1964) for Benjamin Millepied's L.A. Dance Project's inaugural season. Moreover, she and Robert Swinston staged Un jour ou deux (1973) for the Paris Opera Ballet and BIPED (1999) for the Bayerisches Staatsballett of Munich. Goggans has also staged Cunningham work for students at Yale Dance Theater, the Centre National de Dance Contemporaine (CNDC)-Angers, the Frank Sinatra Performing Arts High School and the Beijing Dance Academy. Goggans has performed with the Louisville Ballet, MOMIX, Chantal Yzermans, Christopher Williams, and has appeared as a guest artist with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. She also studied fashion design at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology and has created costumes for Tere O'Connor's Wrought Iron Fog, as well as RoseAnne Spradlin's Survive Cycle and beginning of something. She is currently working as the Program Coordinator and faculty member for the Merce Cunningham Trust and recently completed teaching a course at the Juilliard School where she and Jean Freebury will be staging BIPED this spring.

Keary champi, administrative assistant

Keary Champi graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in Cognitive Science and a minor in Dance. He was introduced to Cunningham Technique at the University and worked closely with Diane Frank, Robert Moses, and Ronnie Reddick. In 2011, Keary was the Marketing and Development intern for the Cunningham Dance Foundation working mainly on the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's final performances at the Park Avenue Armory. Upon graduation in 2012, Keary received the Louis Sudler Prize in the Performing and Creative Arts and moved to New York later that year. He began working as the Administrative Assistant at the Merce Cunningham Trust shortly after arriving in the city and continues to participate in many of the Cunningham repertory workshops. Keary is currently dancing with Dusan Tynek Dance Theatre, H.T. Chen & Dancers, and for various projects with the Trust and other independent choreographers. He appeared as a guest artist with Robert Moses' Kin and has also worked with Katharine Hawthorne, Daniel Roberts, and Natalia Duong. He also teaches students at Chen Dance Center.


Benjamin Houtman is the Audiovisual Archivist for the Merce Cunningham Trust, where he provides reference assistance, facilitates access, and participates in the digital preservation of the Trust’s performance legacy. A musician, writer, and archivist interested in the locus where art, identity, and cultural memory meet, Ben is also Project Archivist for the Trisha Brown Dance Company, where he oversees the preservation of their audiovisual assets as they begin to digitize the company’s substantial analog media holdings. He is an alumnus of the WNYC Archives, where he worked on their 2015 National Endowment of the Humanities grant project preserving New York City’s broadcast media heritage. He received an M.S. in Information Studies from The University of Texas at Austin in 2015, and a B.A. in Sociology from UT's College of Library Arts in 2008, graduating with Highest Honors. He was for years a part of Austin, Texas' thriving, cooperative and competitive music scene, performing with The Gloria Record, A. Sinclair, and many, many others. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Julie.

Nancy Dalva, Scholar in Residence

Nancy Dalva was appointed the Merce Cunningham Trust Scholar in Residence in 2012.  A frequent writer and speaker on dance and related subjects, she produced and wrote the webseries Mondays with Merce for the Cunningham Dance Foundation. A Critic Fellow of both the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and the American Dance Festival, she brings the perspective of a dramaturg to a subject without words.