David Vaughan

David Vaughan was a British-born choreographer, critic, and performer who was best known for his painstaking stewardship of Merce Cunningham’s Archives over a span of more than fifty years. It was mostly through his role as Cunningham Archivist that he took part in programming at the Pillow, participating in PillowTalks, panel discussions, and other public events. His earliest talk on record in the Pillow Archives was in 1984 and the last was an event honoring Sir Frederick Ashton (the subject of Vaughan’s authoritative biography) in 2015. Vaughan studied at Oxford and, though he had been a dance aficionado since childhood, did not begin formal training until he was 23. He moved to the U.S. in 1950 to enroll in the School of American Ballet, where Cunningham was teaching. His initial job with Cunningham was as studio secretary in 1959, but he soon became the official chronicler of all Cunningham activities, recording performance details on index cards. This eventually led to his definitive book on Cunningham, first published in 1997 and since updated in digital form. Up until his death at 93 on October 27, 2017, he served as a mentor and/or inspiration to generations in the dance field, including the Pillow’s Director of Preservation, Norton Owen, who spoke at his memorial and saluted Vaughan for helping define his profession.
Source of Biography
Written by Norton Owen for Jacob's Pillow Remembers.
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