Update on Professor Raymond Cook

Dear all,

I am writing to update about Emeritus Professor Raymond Cook. I am very sorry to let everyone know that he passed away today from the burns he sustained in an accident in his home on Hooker Avenue yesterday. Please join me in expressing our deep sympathies to his family and friends.

Professor Cook was an Australian-born ballet and modern dancer and expert on reconstruction through Labanotation. He attended the Juilliard School where he studied with José Limón and Anna Sokolow, and performed in each choreographer’s works. Cook divided his time between teaching, choreographing, performing, and directing in Australia and the U.S.

At Vassar, Professor Cook was an outstanding professor of dance from 1981 until 1996 in what was then the Physical Education and Dance Department. He literally put the “Repertory” in Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre (VRDT). After Ray arrived, Vassar changed the name of its dance company from Vassar Dance Theatre to Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre since he was an expert in reconstruction via Labanotation and introduced classic modern dance pieces to the Vassar community. Vassar dance students welcomed the historical nature of what he offered and very much enjoyed his leadership in designing VRDT performances at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie. Professor Cook authored some classroom text materials in Labanotation as well as a few books including The Dance Director, of which he was especially proud.

After his retirement from Vassar, Cook continued to do freelance notation projects with choreographers including Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, José Limón, Anna Sokolow, Helen Tamiris, Alvin Ailey, Miche Fokine, Lin Hwai-Min, Walter Gore, Beth Dean, Cecil Bates, Rex Reid, George Balanchine, Lester Horton, Lucas Hoving, Jeff Duncan, and Dan Wagner. Vassar was lucky to have benefited from Professor Cook’s many contributions, and he will be deeply missed.

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604