Skip to main content

John Munger papers

Identifier: PA126

Scope and Content Note

John Munger organized his paper records into three basic categories: Dance, Consulting, and Life. These original series were maintained while the collection was processed. Activities under the series Dance includes performance records, choreography notes, studio teaching notes, administrative files for The Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble, and more general files concerning local dance politics and advocacy. Consulting files include records of his work for Dance/USA and contract work done for other small arts organizations. Personal correspondence, writing, and personal memorabilia are filed under the series Life.

The John Munger Papers include a large collection of audio/visual materials. A wide range of formats are represented in collection, including U-matic, VHS, audio cassette tapes, MiniDV, magnetic audio reels, and CD/DVD formats. Recordings include performances by The Third Rabbit Ensemble, such as Aardvark Fandango, My Body Made Me Do This, Cliff Notes for Dummies,and Guess What We've Been Doing? There are also recordings of Munger's choreography, including the works "Making Demands," "Lord Cutglass," "Five Times a Breeze," "Lady Bobcats Cadenza," "A Face to Meet the Faces," and Nutbuster!, an original work based on the character Drosselmeyer from The Nutcracker.

The collection also includes personal ephemera and a born-digital files collected on CDs and 5 ¼” and 3 ½” floppy discs. The content of the discs has not been verified, but appear to be closely related to Munger’s work for Dance/USA and the Minnesota Dance Alliance; the labels indicate that the floppy discs contain financial information, surveys, raw data collected from survey respondents, and computer backups. The CDs likely contain performance recordings, music used for performances, and digital images of performances. Like the floppy discs, many of the CDs are labelled “backup.” The collection also contains born-digital files on flash and external drives. The contents of these drives is unverified.


  • 1945-2014

Language of Materials


Restrictions on Access

The collection is open and available for use by researchers in the Andersen Library Reading Room.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright is retained by the copyright holders.

Biographical Note

John Munger was a dancer, choreographer, and arts administrator born in 1946 in Rapid City, South Dakota. He attended the Gould Academy preparatory school, and studied English at Harvard University. At Harvard, he became involved in theater and directed several college plays. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, Munger taught English and theater at the Fountain Valley School of Colorado in the 1970s. While living in Colorado, Munger began to study movement and dance. He became involved with the Summer Sun Dance Company, and spent several years under the tutelage of modern dance pioneer Hanya Holm.

Munger moved to the Twin Cities in the early 1980s and began to pursue a career as a dancer. He performed frequently with modern dance companies such as the Nancy Hauser Dance Studio and Georgia Stephens Contemporary Dance Theatre. He began studio teaching at Zenon Dance Company in the early 1990s, and was frequently selected to perform at the Walker Art Center as part of the Choreographers' Evening series. Many of his signature works such as "Committee in Session," "Five Times a Breeze," and the award-winning "Lord Cutglass" were created during this period.

In the early 1990s, Munger began to pursue work as an independent contractor doing accounting, publicity, and general arts management for small arts organizations in the Minnesota Twin Cities. He worked with organiztions such as Corning Dance Company, the Minnesota Dance Alliance, Ballet Arts Minnesota, and Resources and Counseling for the Arts (now Springboard for the Arts) during this time. In 1989 Munger was hired to do remote contract work for Dance/USA, located in Washington, D.C. His role at Dance/USA would continue to grow throughout the early 1990s, and in 1996 he was hired as Dance/USA's full-time Director of Information Services. As Director, he produced several nation-wide dance statistics studies and fielded numerous information requests from Dance/USA constituents.

John Munger began to transition away from his central role at Dance/USA in the mid-2000s. During this time Munger became a more active member of the local dance community in Minnesota. He created The Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble, a small modern dance ensemble with principal choreography from Munger. The Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble performed regularly at the annual Minnesota Fringe Festival, and at Bryant Lake Bowl as part of a monthly performance series titled The Rabbit Show. The Rabbit Show included performances by The Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble, as well as appearances from guest artists. Munger curated The Rabbit Show under the belief that "serious but accessible dance doesn't have to be expensive, hard to understand, self-important, or merely gymnastic." The series emphasized humor, wit, accessibility, and advocacy.

While known primarily as a modern dancer, Munger was also an active member of the Continental Ballet Company in Bloomington, Minnesota. He performed in classic ballet's such as Sleeping Beauty and Coppelia, and danced in the company's annual production of The Nutcracker every year from 1991-2012. Through his annual performance in The Nutcracker, Munger became well-known for his interpretation of the character Drosselmeyer. John Munger continued to perform, curate, and teach throughout 2012 until health issues began to arise in early 2013. He passed away in Minneapolis in the spring of 2013.


41 boxes (58 linear feet)


Collection contains materials related to Dance, Consulting, and Life, as well as audio/visual material and other ephemera.


The collection is organized in six series:

  1. Dance
  2. Consulting
  3. Life
  4. Audio/Visual
  5. Ephemera
  6. Born-Digital Files

Physical Location



The collection was donated to the Performing Arts Archives by Carolyn King in 2013.

Processing Information

Collection processed and finding aid written by Ellen Leclere and Kathryn Hujda in 2014, with generous support from Creative Heritage Initiative donors and Dance Heritage Coalition.

John Munger papers
Kathryn Hujda
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Performing Arts Archives Collecting Area