Choreography / 1979

50 Looks

“50 Looks” was a solo constructed from a gamut of fifty still positions. Cunningham used chance to generate a long series of ninety-one of these positions. Due to the nature of chance operations, some of the fifty looks were done multiple times, some were done only once, and a few were not done at all. Cunningham’s notes indicate that the solo was choreographed in December 1979, and was originally conceived as a video project. The earliest version of “50 Looks” is a 42-minute black-and-white video, made by Charles Atlas, of Cunningham performing the solo in silence, on the small stage at the back of his Westbeth studio. The exact date of this videotaping is unknown. In the video, Cunningham dances the complete sequence of ninety-one positions four times, decreasing the duration of the pauses between positions with each set. An abridged version of the solo, lasting three minutes, was later incorporated into the 1981 dance “Gallopade,” in a section called “50 Looks with Poses.” Cunningham also danced “50 Looks” in Events for many years, beginning at least as early as November 1981.

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Premiere Date

Dec 30, 1979

Premiere Venue

Merce Cunningham Studio

Premiere Location

New York City


42 minutes

Original Cast

Merce Cunningham

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