In Memoriam

Katharine “Kitty” Spalding Cunningham (1935-2023)

Before Kitty Cunningham served on the editorial board of Persimmon Tree, she was a long-time school librarian and a working dance journalist, covering performances and interviewing artists both in New York City and in the Berkshire Mountains, where she and her husband, painter Francis “Dick” Cunningham, transformed an old barn into a wonderful summer retreat.


Kitty was dragooned into Persimmon Tree by Sue Leonard, our recently retired editor-in-chief and a fellow faculty member at the Brearley School, who also recruited me. I’d met Kitty in the late 1970s when we were both immersed in New York’s dance community; she was the rare critic who always had a “yes” with which to register what she saw. Her daughter Sasha Anawalt followed Kitty into the dance world, writing for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and teaching at USC. Married for 69 years to the same guy, Kitty watched her family burgeon unto the fourth generation, with even her “grands” winding up on the stage. She published Conversations with a Dancer in collaboration with Michael Ballard, a member of the Murray Louis Dance Company.

Her life was commemorated on December 9, 2023, at St. Michael’s Church in New York, near the apartment where she and Dick lived for 60 years. We miss her. Donations in her memory may be made to Jacob’s Pillow, the historic dance haven in Becket, MA, or, of course, to Persimmon Tree.


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