Choreography / 1960


First performed at the Thirteenth American Dance Festival in the summer of 1960, Crises was described by Cunningham as “an adventure in togetherness.” Choreographed for four women and one man, the dance focused on physical contact between the dancers. The physical entanglements came both through holding each other and being held, and through elastic bands, worn around a wrist, an arm, a waist or a leg, which connected the dancers in various positions. Cage noted, “This is a dramatic, though not a narrative, dance concerned with decisive moments in the relationship between a man and four women.” Conlon Nancarrow’s musical score reinforced the dance’s harsh atmosphere with an assortment of jangling rhythms, and Rauschenberg’s costumes were leotards in various shades of red.


Premiere Date

Aug 19, 1960

Premiere Venue

American Dance Festival, Connecticut College

Premiere Location

New London, CT


Conlon Nancarrow, Rhythm Studies for player piano


Robert Rauschenberg


22 minutes

Original Cast

Carolyn Brown

Merce Cunningham

Judith Dunn

Viola Farber

Marilyn Wood

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