Remy Charlip proves the thinking that creativity know no boundaries. His work in various fields of the creative world are a testament to his enduring greatness.
Abraham ‘Remy’ Charlip (born January 10, 1929) is an American artist, writer, choreographer, theatre director, designer and teacher. In the 1960s Charlip created a unique form of choreography, which he calls “air mail dances”. He sends a set of drawings to a dance company, and the dancers order the positions and create transitions and context. His mother called him Remelah.
He attended Hebrew school with his sister, who was two years older than him, and had a bar mitzvah. He read all the time as a child, and began writing stories at a young age. He also loved to dance and paint. He studied textile design at a fine arts high school, but ended up studying dance at Reed College in Portland.
He moved to New York after college and, through a friend, composer Lou Harrison, he met Merce Cunningham, a legendary 20th century avant-garde choreographer who died July 26 at age 90.
Charlip spent 12 years dancing with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in the 1950s and ’60s, and also designed the troupe’s costumes and advertising flyers.
But dancers made little money in those days, so to supplement his income he designed book jackets. Then he became interested in writing and illustrating his own books, and in 1956 he published “Dress Up and Let’s Have a Party,” whose characters were based on dancers and artists Charlip worked with.
“I always saw myself as a painter and a dancer and a writer,” Charlip said.
He has performed with John Cage, he was a founder member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for which he also designed sets and costumes, he directed plays for the Judson Poet’s Theater, he co-founded thePaper Bag Players, he served as head of the Children’s Theater and Literature Department at Sarah Lawrence College. He won two Village Voice Obie Awards, three New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year citations, and was awarded a six-month residency in Kyoto from the Japan/U.S. Commission on the Arts. He has written and/or illustrated 29 children’s books and currently lives in San Francisco, California, USA.