Merce Cunningham Trust

Variations V 1966

DANCES Variations V
LENGTH 49 minutes
DIRECTOR Arne Arnbom
PRODUCER Norddeutscher Rundfunk/Sveriges Radio
DISTRIBUTOR Electronic Arts Intermix, Alexander Street Press
MUSIC Variations V, John Cage
MUSICIANS John Cage, David Tudor, Gordon Mumma
DANCERS Merce Cunningham, Carolyn Brown, Barbara Lloyd, Sandra Neels, Albert Reid, Peter Saul, Gus Solomons jr
This is a multi-media work commissioned by The French American Festival and filmed at Studio Hamburg in West Germany. The piece involved dancers, musicians, and technicians, as well as electronic equipment, some especially designed by Bell Laboratories. Twelve sound sensitive electronic poles were placed around the stage. Each pole had a four foot sound radius. The sound was triggered by the dancer's movements and was then altered or delayed by the musicians, John Cage, David Tudor and Gordon Mumma shown at work nearby. Another experimental element in this piece involved the use of film. Stan VanDerBeek filmed rehearsals of the dancers, shooting around, but not disturbing them. VanDerBeek used this footage as well as other images, such as still shots from movies and a montage of contemporary scenes. Korean artist Nam June Paik developed ways of changing some of the images and projected them on television screens during the performance. A number of non-dance related activities were also included in the work. Cunningham potted a large plant and Carolyn Brown repotted it. The plant had a cartridge microphone attached to it so that any quiver would produce sound. At the end of the piece, Cunningham rode a bicycle through the space, around the poles and the photo-electric cells, and then exited.