John Munger, teacher of dance and life, very beloved friend, mentor, dance historian, storyteller, philosopher, dancer and choreographer passed away peacefully on Tuesday, serenaded by the songs of birds and spring peepers outside his window. John has made a difference in the lives of so many and will be sorely missed.
A robust celebration of John is being planned, and will take place in 2-3 weeks. Information on this event will be provided via Facebook, email, newsletters and other sources very soon - please be patient.
Space, time and energy...
As his dance mentor, rest her soul, always said, "Well children, each day I am a beginner and today we start anew."
- April Sellers
So long John. I'll miss you so.
You acerbic wit.
You trumpeter of artists.
You shouter of outrages.
You humorist, you vaudevillian.
You denier. You fighter.
You reasoner. You madman.
You son of a bitch.
You easy laugher.
You concealer of darknesses.
- Paul Herwig
John Munger once told me he wanted to be a talking head. After he no longer worked for Dance/USA, maybe he would still be performing and teaching, maybe not, but he wanted to be a person who could talk knowledgably about dance to anybody who needed the knowledge.
Maybe John didn’t get to be his version of that talking head, but I doubt anybody who talked to him, took class from him, read his blogs or reviews at the Twin Cities Daily Planet, or benefited from his research about dance in the US would have doubted that he was knowledgeable about dance. And that he wanted to share that knowledge.
As we reel from his untimely death this week, I suspect we’re all starting to find echoes and reverberations of his presence in our lives that we didn’t realize were there. I know I am. I started dancing with John in 1999, and there was a time in my life, while I was working multiple part-time jobs, dancing for him in the Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble and with him in the American Russian Dance Company, that I probably saw John more frequently than anybody else in my life other than my boyfriend. I treasured dancing with somebody of his experience and performance chops as we learned the exacting requirements of Russian character dance. I shared in his obvious glee as a member of the Third Rabbit when he figured out a step that worked within his mental picture of the choreography and on the bodies of his dancers. I loved sharing the stage with his focus and delight in performing. And I loved the moments at the beginning of rehearsal, or as we were leaving the studio for the evening, when he would start, “You know…” and off we would be, on the dance-related topic of the day, perhaps Twin Cities dance history, Hanya stories, or details of arts administration.
John always knew how to talk. He also knew how to perform, how to teach, and how to share his love of dance. And to me all of that will be his legacy.
- Sara Scrimshaw
As an annual "Fringer" I delighted in experiencing John's talents for dance and choreography. I also looked forward to talking with John each August. I will miss that now.
My deepest sympathy to his friends and family and the Dance Community.
May his soul rest in peace!
- Beverlee Everett
I wanted to share my memories as a student. John will be remembered for so many things, for me personally, it was one of the main highlights of my week to go to dance class. His passion for teaching and performing never seemed to waiver, he had me laughing out loud in dance classes many times with hilariously detailed performance stories to take our minds off of the pain we were in while we were stretching. With his style of teaching, I could laugh at my mistakes and still strive to improve. He was very humble, very boisterous, always real, so intelligent in many areas and very loved.
- Brenda Paulson
John was one of those performers who couldn’t just dance with his body. He often yelled, whooped and grunted as he lost himself in the world that he was creating. We were in a show last spring that was in the style of a silent film. I grin to myself as I remember John, struggling so hard to dance without the added verbal element that was so distinctly him. Rest in peace my friend, I am sure you are dancing at the top of your lungs right now.
- Amy Schweickhardt
I didn't "get" dance until I met John Munger. We were fellow bloggers on the Minnesota Fringe Festival circuit and because of knowing John, I was lured into seeing more dance as part of my live performance diet. John's own dance shows, in the Fringe and outside it, were full of such joy and wonder and a mischievous sense of humor that I couldn't help but be beguiled by them. Suddenly dance wasn't such a foreign thing, something I needed a degree to understand. Dance was fun, challenging and entertaining. Even if I didn't know all the technical terms, dance was a language I could speak in, dance was something I could appreciate. John opened my creative mind and my heart as an audience member to something that has given me such great pleasure in these years I've been lucky to know him. Whenever I appreciate dance going forward, I will be thinking of John, and thanking him.
- Matthew Everett
To leave your own remembrance, please visit John’s Facebook page. Memorial plans are currently in the works. We leave you with some fine advice from John’s last Playlist article: “Modern dance is a movement gourmand’s luxury smorgasbord. Indulge.”