Simone Forti attended technique classes with the most celebrated modern choreographers when she arrived in New York in 1959, but she was, by her own account, a lousy student. She wrote in her diary that she “couldn’t even perceive” what Martha Graham’s body was doing, let alone reproduce her movements. Merce Cunningham’s “adult, isolated articulation” was just as foreign. She had better luck the following year in a composition class offered at the Cunningham studio by musician Robert Dunn. He introduced her to compositional techniques of John Cage, who was the music director of Cunningham’s company.