Choreography / 1952


Cunningham was commissioned by Leonard Bernstein to choreograph two works for the Festival of the Creative Arts at Brandeis University: Igor Stravinsky’s “Les Noces” and three excerpts (“Eroica,” “Apostrophe,” and “Strette”) from “Symphone pour un homme seul,” a piece of “musique concrete” (magnetic tape) composed by Pierre Schaeffer in collaboration with Pierre Henry. Bernstein wanted the Schaeffer music to be played twice. Rather than repeating the same dance, Cunningham made two different pieces: a solo for himself, followed by a group dance for a mixed group of professional and student dancers. To accommodate the skill level of the student dancers, he incorporated into the piece everyday movement (running, walking, skipping) and pantomimed gestures (combing hair, washing hands, filing nails). Historically, the piece marked the first time that such gestures were used in performance without mimetic significance. For the first performance, given at Brandeis in June 1952, the title “Excerpts from Symphonie pour un homme seul” was used. At subsequent performances, the piece was retitled “Collage.” Cunningham frequently performed his solo as a separate number with the title “Collage I.” Beginning in February 1963, the title “Collage III” was used for a reworked version of the solo.


Premiere Date

Jun 14, 1952

Premiere Venue

Brandeis University

Premiere Location

Waltham, MA


Pierre Schaeffer, Symphonie pour un homme seul


Street Clothes


Length unknown

Original Cast

Remy Charlip

Merce Cunningham

Joanne Finkelor

Ben Garber

Donald McKayle

Jo Anne Melsher

Natanya Neumann

Marianne Preger-Simon

Greta Rosenzweig

Joan Skinner

Anneliese Widman

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