Blondell Cummings, dancer, died at 70

  Dead Famous

Blondell Cummings, born in 1944 and died on August 30, 2015 of pancreatic cancer, she was a dancer and choreographer.

Ms. Cummings’s work, which fused dance, theater, mime, spoken word and video into small quasi-narrative worlds, looked, in the opinion of critics, unlike anyone else’s. Long based in New York, she began her career as an original member of the House, the avant-garde dance company founded by Meredith Monk in 1968.

She later oversaw her own ensemble, Blondell Cummings and Performers.

Over the years, Ms. Cummings’s work was seen on prominent stages, including those of PS 1 in Queens, the Joyce Theater in Manhattan and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as well as Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Mass., where she was a past artist in residence.

Known for her sinuous dynamism, Ms. Cummings, who was compact rather than willowy, could, with a flick of a wrist or the twist of a hip, inhabit a range of characters onstage: a nun, a grandmother, a construction worker, the chanteuse Josephine Baker.

“Miss Cummings is one of the most acute performers around,” Jennifer Dunning wrote in The New York Times in 1984, reviewing “The Art of War/Nine Situations,” a piece by Ms. Cummings, in collaboration with Jessica Hagedorn, set to the words of the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu.

“To watch her fluent hands – at one point scraping at imaginary small objects in the imaginary dust, then stretching and smoothing as they fold a shirt into a battered suitcase – is to witness rare physical acting.”

Cummings died on August 30 , 2015 of pancreatic cancer at age 70.