Former Merce Cunningham Dance Company principal artist Holley Farmer joins USC Kaufman faculty

April 21, 2023

Artist and educator Holley Farmer | Photo courtesy of Farmer

Farmer joins USC as an Assistant Professor of Practice beginning in fall 2023.

Holley Farmer, former principal artist with Merce Cunningham Dance Company, is set to join the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance faculty in fall 2023, adding to USC Kaufman’s award-winning faculty.

“Holley has performed on some of the world’s biggest stages, worked with some of the most influential artists, and taught at world-class institutions,” said Julia M. Ritter, Dean of USC Kaufman. “All of this gives her a wealth of experience and knowledge that will be invaluable to our students. We look forward to welcoming her in fall 2023.”

A long-time performer and educator, Farmer joins USC Kaufman after directing the BFA Program in Dance at The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at CalArts. She was a member of The Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC) from 1997-2009, receiving the New York Dance and Performance Bessie Award for Sustained Achievement. Her performances with MCDC include a repertory of over 50 dances, and 13 original roles created for her by Cunningham, with multiple seasons at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Paris Opera, Théâtre de la Ville, the Barbican, and venues in 23 countries. With Twyla Tharp, she danced on Broadway originating the principal role of Babe in Come Fly Away, for which she received an Astaire Award Nomination. 

In 2011, Farmer began staging the work of Cunningham and creating her own choreographies. Her solo work has appeared at New York Live Arts, the Museum of Arts and Design, LaMaMa, The Joyce Theater, and Jacob’s Pillow. For the last 12 years in higher education, she has taught theory and practice courses and served on the faculty at Mills College, Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College, Nassau Community College, CSU Long Beach, and CalArts, among national guest teaching and lecture engagements, which include Stanford University and Southern California Institute of Architecture. Her early career was inspired by training with Hae Shik Kim, leading to positions in Theatre Ballet of Canada, The Phantom of the Opera (785 performances), and The Oakland Ballet.