Malcolm McCormick

Malcolm McCormick was born in 1927 in the small upstate New York town of Gouverneur, an area to which he returned in retirement. He first came to the Pillow as a scholarship student in 1947. That experience enabled his move to New York City as a boarder in the Brooklyn home of Arthur Mahoney and Thalia Mara (who co-directed the Pillow that summer while Ted Shawn was on sabbatical). He later wrote of his Pillow experience, “I learned a lot about a lot of things including what a life in dance would be like if I chose to undertake one.” He initially made that choice and performed in New York throughout the 1950s and 60s with various companies including the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. He simultaneously developed his interests and skills in costume design, and would eventually design for the companies of Alvin Ailey, José Limón, and Murray Louis, as well as Pilobolus, Pennsylvania Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. In 1968, he was invited to establish a design program for the dance department at UCLA, where he taught and designed for many years. It was through this connection that he acquired a remarkable tapestry from Ruth St. Denis. McCormick eventually donated it to Jacob’s Pillow, allowing it to be featured in various exhibitions, most recently in Dance We Must at the Williams College Museum of Art in 2018. McCormick is perhaps best known for a monumental dance history book entitled No Fixed Points which he co-wrote with Nancy Reynolds in 2003. Both authors took part in a PillowTalk in conjunction with the book’s publication, and some of his Pillow memories are thus preserved as part of the video of this event. In 2017, the National Museum of Dance honored McCormick with an exhibit of some of his dance designs, but he was unable to attend the opening due to illness. He died at age 90 in December 2017.
Source of Biography
Written by Norton Owen for Jacob's Pillow Remembers.