Merce Cunningham and Dance Company

Merce Cunningham and Dance Company


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Merce Cunningham and Dance Company
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Variations V

Choreographed in 1965
Filmed in 1966
50 minutes
black & white

rental: $50
purchase: $415

16mm film

Carolyn Brown
Merce Cunningham
Barbara Lloyd
Sandra Neels
Albert Reid
Peter Saul
Gus Solomons, Jr.

Directed by Arne Arnbom
Produced by Studio Hamburg

"The French-American Festival commissioned John
Cage to prepare a score and myself to make a
choreography to this score. John decided to find out if
there might not be ways that the sound could be
affected by movement, and he and David Tudor pro-
ceeded to find out that there were. The first was a
series of poles, twelve in all, like antennae, placed
over the stage, each to have a sound radius, sphere-
shaped, of four feet. When a dancer came into this
radius a sound would result. Each antenna was to have
a different sound, and some had several. The second
sound source was a series of photo-electric cells,
figured out by Billy Kluver of the Bell Laboratories,
which were put at the base of the twelve poles
throughout the area and this seemed to function.The
general principle as far as I was concerned was like the
doors opening when you go into the supermarket.
The dancers triggered a sound but the kind of a sound,
how long it might be, or the possible repetition of it
was controlled by the musicians who were at the
various machines behind us. The effect was of a
count-down when they count down to three and then
stop. There was another element in this piece, the use
of film. Stan Vanderbeek and his assistant Tom Hewitt
had in the weeks ahead of this made a number of reels
of film of us, myself dancing, my company doing
movements out of the piece. Stan came to the studio
one day while we were rehearsing and without dis-
rupting the dancers at all shot through and around
them; he shot my hands and feet several times. He
said the feet would look marvelous blown up. Stan
used other images, still shots and shots from movies, a
montage of contemporary scenes, automobiles, a
man in space, nature, buildings. Nam June Paik, the
Korean composer who has developed ways of chan-
ging the images on a television screen, used some of
these ways to change the images. There were a
number of non-dance activities that I figured out for
the dancers to do. I potted a large plant and Carolyn
Brown repotted it. The plant had a cartridge
microphone attached to it so that any quiver could
produce sound. Barbara Lloyd put a towel on her head
which had a contact microphone attached to it and
proceeded to stand on her head and then was moved
gently back and forth by Gus Solomons, while upside
down. At the end of the piece, I rode a bicycle through
the space, around the poles and the photo-electric
cells, and then exited."
Merce Cunningham

Fractions I is a video/dance, taped at the Merce Cun-
ningham Studio in November-December, 1977. The
first performance in a theatre was given at the Boston
English High School, Boston, Massachusetts on Feb-
ruary 26, 1978.
"Fractions, as it unfolds, has the concentrated energy
of a great signature work. When it is over, it seems to
have summed up everything important in the
Cunningham canon and yet to have weighed not an
ounce ... It is the finest piece of video choreography
anyone has yet made, the closest any choreographer
has yet come to working with absolute integrity in
two medias at once. Cunningham, alone of the
choreographers who have worked with television, has
assumed that defining TV space is necessary to the
projection of a dance in TV terms. The same factors
that make Cunningham choreography as interesting
to watch close up as from a distance make it televis-
able. To watch the videodance Fractions is to watch
the medium find its dancing master. Fractions may be
the most successful of Cunningham's videodances be-
cause it's really about dancing and "television" is
metaphorically present in its conception a part of
the real world of change which Cunningham believes
in and makes dances about."

Fractions I

33 minutes
color and black & white
U-matic 34 inch
video cassette
and 16mm film


a work for video

32 minutes
black & white

Directed by Charles Atlas
Music by Jon Gibson: Equal Distribution
Decor and costumes by Mark Lancaster

rental: $50
purchase: $225

-Arlene Croce,
The New Yorker

Karole Armitage
Louise Burns
Graham Conley
Ellen Cornfield
Meg Eginton
Lisa Fox
Chris Komar
Robert Kovich

Carolyn Brown
Merce Cunningham
Ulysses Dove
Douglas Dunn
Meg Harper
Susana Hayman-Chaffey
Chris Komar
Sandra Neels
Chase Robinson
Valda Setterfield

A movie by Charles Atlas
Cameramen: Charles Atlas, James Klosty, Michael Norberg
Music and soundtrack by David Behrman: (... for nearly an hour...
Decor, after Marcel Duchamp's The Large Glass in the Philadelphia Museum,
supervised by Jasper Johns
Lighting by Richard Nelson

48 minutes
16mm film

rental: $60
purchase: $750

"Marcel Duchamp, Merce Cunningham and Jasper
Johns were guests at the same New York party one
night. Johns had an idea of a way in which Duchamp's
The Large Glass could work as decor for a dance for
Cunningham's company. Cunningham was enthusiastic
and Johns crossed the room to approach Duchamp
with the proposal. Duchamp frowned, "Who will do
the work?" Johns said, "I will." Relieved, Duchamp
readily agreed. Duchamp attended the premiere of
Walkaround Time in Buffalo, New York on March 10th,
1968. The dance is atypical in the Cunningham reper-
tory. Though the choreography, the music and the
decor were each independently conceived, they share
a common thematic purpose: an homage to the work
of Marcel Duchamp. In more typical Cunningham
fashion the music was first heard when it was per-
formed with the dance on the opening night, and the
set was incorporated into the piece shortly before
the premiere.

"The choreography makes reference to Duchamp in
concept (composition) and in detail (physical image).
Cunningham has translated Duchamp's concern with
transparency in terms of movements into a dance
composition which explores the possibilities of lateral
movement back and forth across a proscenium space.
In addition to the "transparent" clarity of this way of
shaping space (as against, for example, the use of a
swirling space) this is movement that retains its visual
integrity as the dancers pass behind the see-through
vinyl inflatables of the set. The stillnesses that pene-
trate and surround the movement have a definite
Duchamp flavor. Cunningham's readymade is the
"laissez-faire" movement during the entr'actee", and
when he changes costume on stage it is a nod to the
famous nude. The viewer is left to complete the
dance with discoveries of Duchamp on many levels."
-Charles Atlas

"I think Wolkaround Time is, purely and simply, a mas- I
terwork. In its quiet, ambling way it illustrates many of
those elements that go to make up Cunningham's
greatness as a choreographer. The film shows what
Cunningham is all about and it can make lifetime
converts of those who can learn to meet the
choreographer on his own terms. Among its values is
that it preserves the performances of some extraor-
dinary Cunningham dancers no longer with the com-
pany. There is Valda Setterfield at her brightest and
wittiest, the beautifully controlled Sandra Neels and
Susana Hayman-Chaffey, the forceful Douglas Dunn,
and Carolyn Brown, who can make an event of cosmic
proportions out of simply standing still."
-John Mueller,
"Films: Merce Cunningham's
Walkaround Time,"
Dance Magazine

Walkaround Time


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463 West Street

Dances choreographed by Merce Cunningham

now available on film and videotape cassette

rental: $40
purchase: $135

U-matic %/ inch
video cassette
and 16mm film

A videotape made at the Merce Cunningham Studio
in New York in the fall of 1974.

Karole Armitage
Ellen Cornfield
Meg Harper
Cathy Kerr
Chris Komar
Robert Kovich
Brynar Mehl
Charlie Moulton
Julie Roess-Smith
Valda Setterfield
George Titus

Directed by Charles Atlas
Costumes by Mark Lancaster, from a design
by Jasper Johns (for Un Jour ou Deux, 1973)

Squaregame Video

Directed by Charles Atlas
Music by Takehisa Kosugi: S.E. Wave/E.W Song
Decor and costumes by Mark Lancaster
"Cheerful scrimmaging and scrabbly movements on
the floor are followed by a duet between Cunningham
and Susana Hayman-Chaffey in which he steadies his
partner lightly, her long probing legs connected only
loosely to the rest of her, as if they were some kind of
liability which rendered her unsuited for simple
Deborah Jowitt,
Village Voice


55 minutes
16mm film
rental: $70
purchase: $1500

"It begins and ends with views of the studio and has six
major sections, each visually linked: I) the dancers are
introduced in a shifting set of lingering closeups coun-
terposed with distant patterns by the others; 2) the
sculptural effect of their massed bodies is explored in
closeup; 3) they dance an 8 minute sequence of shift-
ing duets, trios and quartets that build into and out of
several sculpted formations; 4) they are seen in con-
versational profile, four at a time, while two others
hop out a chipper pattern in the distance; 5) five of
them stroll into the studio for a sequence of simulta-
neous solos, each contrasting spurts of movement
with calm poses; 6) shots of group clusterings (some
photographed from above) are alternated with shots
of members of the group zigzagging their way closer
and closer to the camera along the right frame edge
until, at the end, the camera itself joins in the frolic."
-John Mueller,
Dance Magazine
"What George Balanchine observed as the essential
perceptual problem in translating his dances for
television 'They don't go away and come back; they
just get larger or smaller' -Cunningham and Atlas
have exploited in Westbeth for formal tensions and
graphic impact."
Richard Lorber,
Dance Scope

rental: $30
purchase: $115

27 minutes
black & white
U-matic 3 inch
video cassette
and 16mm film
Karole Armitage
Karen Attix
Ellen Cornfield
Merce Cunningham
Morgan Ensminger
Meg Harper
Susana Hayman-Chaffey
Cathy Kerr
Chris Komar
Robert Kovich
Raymond Kurshals
Julie Roess-Smith

Squaregame Vdeo was videotaped at the Merce Cun-
ningham Studio in May, 1976. The first performance of
the piece was given on March 24, 1976 at the Festival
Theatre, Adelaide, New South Wales, Australia.
"A work of complex playfulness, with confrontations
through barely defined games, involving duffle bags,
that give way to sudden, spasmodic action."
-Stephen Godfrey,
Toronto Globe and Mail

Karole Armitage
Louise Burns
Ellen Cornfield
Morgan Ensminger
Lisa Fox
Meg Harper
Robert Kovich
Chris Komar
Julie Roess-Smith
Jim Self

Torse was designed as two synchronous hour-long
films to be projected simultaneously on adjacent
screens. The purpose was both to provide a complete
archival record of the choreography and to approxi-
mate the spectator's experience of the dance. The
contrapuntal structure of the dance and Cunnin-
gham's asymmetrical use of space also suggested a
two-screen presentation. Either film may be viewed
separately, but their combination provides a more
complete record and experience of the dance.
This film was produced by the Dance Collection of the
New York Public Library at Lincoln Center with funds
from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The choreography of Torse utilizes the numbers I to
64, taken from the I Ching, The Book of Changes. These
numbers are used both in the spatial plan, conceived
as a square eight by eight, and the movement phrases,
which constitute the language of Torse. All aspects of
the continuity were chance-determined, the se-
quence of phrases, the number of things happening at
once and the number of dancers involved in a given
phrase. The rhythm is sometimes metric and some-
times not. Torse refers to the use of the torso
throughout the dance. There are five basic positions
utilized-upright, arch, twist, tilt and curve. The
dance in live performance is ordinarily given in 22-
minute sections. This film presents the dance in its full


20 minutes
black & white

rental: $50
purchase: $135
16mm film

Produced by the Finnish Broadcasting Company
Music by Toshi Ichiyanagi: Sapporo
Decor by Robert Rauschenberg

A film of a performance of the dance in Finland during
the company's world tour in 1964. This dance, first
performed in July, 1963 while Mr. Cunningham and his
company were in residence at the University of
California in Los Angeles, is indeterminate in its com-
position. It is made up of sections of varied character,
none of which need be performed twice in the same
way. Specific directives and freedoms have been given
the dancers and they receive cues from one another.
The continuity within a section is thus altogether
unpredictable. The title refers not to any implicit or
explicit narrative, but to the fact that every spectator
may interpret the events in his own way.

Carolyn Brown
Merce Cunningham
William Davis
Viola Farber
Deborah Hay
Barbara Lloyd
Sandra Neels
Steve Paxton
Albert Reid

The dancers are involved with objects that change
from evening to evening. They are things found by
Robert Rauschenberg in or outside the theatre, when
and where the dance is performed.

The music by Toshi Ichiyanagi carries the title Sapporo,
the name of the northernJapanese city in which it was
first performed. The sounds that are produced have
different qualities: either they are sustaining sounds,
begun without attack, sometimes constant in pitch,
sometimes sliding; or they are vibrant, sudden and
shocking. The performers under certain circum-
stances exchange parts not only among themselves,
but on occasion with the conductor too, who, like
them, is also free to produce sounds.

Directed by Charles Atlas
Cameramen: Merce Cunningham, Charles Atlas, Niels Melo
Costumes by Mark Lancaster
Music by Maryanne Amacher: Remainder
18.]R[ ID[I=afterimage

Blue Studio: Five Segments

15/2 minutes

rental: $50
purchase: $170

A videotape by Charles Atlas and Merce Cunningham

U-matic 34 inch
video cassette
An intimate piece using video as its "set".
Produced at the WNET TV Lab in October, 1975.
"Extensive utilization of chromakey as well as mirrors
in real time allowed Cunningham's movements to be
transposed against various realities: Caracas, a solid
blue background, among members of his company,
and, near the tape's end, several images of himself
dancing among, though not with, each other.
Throughout Blue Studio Cunningham developed a vo-
cabulary of movement; from walking, to intimate
hand gestures, to large movements of the body. By the
end the vocabulary could be demonstrated simulta-
neously by the same performer, concentrated, in
total silence. Now and then a frog, a monkey, and a
small dog, each moving in its own way, were
chromakeyed in-surprising as Cunningham usually
doesn't work with untrained dancers.
Barbara Baracks,
"Merce Cunningham, Carl Soloway Gallery,"
Art Forum


SDances choreographed by

Inow available on film and

SStory 1964 sound b/w

SVariations V 1966 sound b/'

| Walkaround Time 1973 sound colD

I Westbeth 1974 sound b/v

g Blue Studio: 5 Segments 1975 silent colD

I Squaregame Video 1976 sound b/t

STorse 1977 sound colo

ColFractions I sound
Fractions I 197A sound and


name t citle

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Li Story

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[ Variations V

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El Walkaround Time

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Di Di Westbeth

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video Blue Studio: 5 Segments reqt date

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film Torse request date

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t] Li Fractions I

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