Cage Cunningham Fellow

Jennifer Tipton

Lighting designer Jennifer Tipton is the 2019-20 recipient of BAC’s distinguished award established in 2015 to support artists who embody John Cage and Merce Cunningham’s commitment to artistic innovation.

Considered one of the most versatile lighting designers for dance, theater, and opera, Tipton is known for her painterly and emotionally evocative lighting. Throughout her exceptional career, she has pushed the boundaries of her art form through visual innovations that have reimagined the relationship between lighting and performance, and inspired a generation of designers.

During her fellowship, which includes $50,000 distributed over two years and use of the John Cage & Merce Cunningham Studio for up to eight weeks, Tipton will collaborate with a set designer and a sound designer to develop an immersive installation centered on the disintegration of the planet's natural resources, through a series of images created with light.

The Cage Cunningham Fellowship is made possible thanks to the generous donors to the Cage Cunningham Fund.

Read the press release announcing the 2019—20 Cage Cunningham Fellow.

Read the New York Times announcement of the fourth Cage Cunningham Fellow.


Born in 1937 in the United States, Jennifer Tipton graduated from Cornell University and studied dance in NYC before becoming a lighting designer. She is known for her outstanding work in theater, opera and dance, carving out the performers and evoking the atmosphere of the most diverse forms of theater.

Since 1981 she has taught lighting in the Design Department of the Yale School of Drama. She has received numerous awards including the Dorothy & Lillian Gish Prize in 2001, Jerome Robbins Prize in 2003, and the Prize of the Mayor of New York for the Arts and Culture in 2004. In 2008, both United States Artists and the MacArthur Foundation made her a fellow. In the field of opera, she has lit for the Dallas Opera a production of Janacek's Jenufa, for the Santa Fe Opera a production of Handel’s Agrippina and Berlioz's Beatrice et Benedict, for the Theatre Royale de la Monnaie in Brussels a production of Mozart's Don Giovanni directed by David McVicar, Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades directed by Richard Jones and Mozart’s The Magic Flute directed by William Kentridge. She designed the lighting for Salvatore Sciarrino’s Da gelo a gelo in Schwetzigen and the Paris Opera directed by Trisha Brown, a production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Santa Fe Opera directed by Tim Albery, a production of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel at the Metropolitan Opera directed by Richard Jones and La Traviata directed by David McVicar at the Scottish National Opera. In the field of dance, she has lit Balanchine's Jewels for the Royal Ballet in London, Trisha Brown’s O Composite for the Paris Opera Ballet and Paul Taylor’s Beloved Renegade at City Center Theater in NYC, among many others. In theater her work includes Beckett Shorts at the New York Theater Workshop directed by JoAnne Akalaitis and Richard Nelson’s Conversations in Tusculum at the Public Theater. More recently, she lit American Ballet Theater’s production of The Nutcracker choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky and Paul Taylors’ Three Dubious Memories. In theater, she recently lit Tennessee Wiliiams’ The Glass Menagerie at the Mark Taper Forum and the Wooster Group’s version of his Vieux Carre at Baryshnikov Arts Center in NYC. She also has lit Daniel Catan’s Il Postino at the Los Angeles Opera directed by Ron Daniels and a production of Aida at London’s Royal Opera House directed by David McVicar. Most recently she lit a new "pocket" opera of Philip Glass using Maria Irene Fornes' play Drowning as the libretto. Her recent work in theater is Richard Nelson's The Michaels at the Public Theater. She is the lighting designer of the Broadway production of Aaron Sorkin's To Kill a Mockingbird based on the original novel by Harper Lee. Her recent work in dance is Pam Tanowitz's all at once for Paul Taylor's American Dance Company and Twyla Tharp's A Gathering of Ghosts for American Ballet Theatre.

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Photo: Brigitte Lacombe