Choreography / 1966


This piece had an unmistakably dramatic quality; Cunningham’s own role had something of the neurotic intensity of such dances as his Untitled Solo. At the end, he got into a large plastic bag and thrashed about. The dancers had no idea of this quality during rehearsals, but only realized it when they came to perform the dance. Gordon Mumma, who had no doubts about the meaning of the piece, composed his first score for Cunningham, Mesa, “a duo for bandoneon and computer,” for which David Tudor made his own decisions in performance. Beverly Emmons, the company’s lighting designer during the interregnum between the departure of Robert Rauschenberg as resident designer and the appointment of Jasper Johns as artistic advisor, made a set out of bits of wooden crates and newspapers; the women wore brief tunics of clear colored plastic over their leotards.


Premiere Date

Aug 06, 1966

Premiere Venue

Fondation Maeght

Premiere Location

Saint-Paul de Vence, France


Gordon Mumma, Mesa


Beverly Emmons


Beverly Emmons


26 minutes

Original Cast

Carolyn Brown

Merce Cunningham

Barbara Lloyd

Sandra Neels

Albert Reid

Peter Saul

Valda Setterfield

Gus Solomons jr

Explore the Dance Capsule

Explore More

Other Choreography

Field Dances
Duration: Variable
Year: 1963
Collab.: Cage, Rauschenberg
Duration: Variable 15 - 40 minutes
Year: 1963
Collab.: Ichiyanagi, Rauschenberg
Open Session
Duration: Length unknown
Year: 1964
Duration: 23 minutes
Year: 1964
Collab.: Young, Rauschenberg
Duration: Length unknown
Year: 1964
Collab.: Cage, Rauschenberg
Museum Event No. 1 (Events)
Duration: Variable 60 - 90 minutes
Year: 1964
Collab.: Cage
Cross Currents
Duration: 7 minutes
Year: 1964
Collab.: Nancarrow, Rauschenberg
Variations V
Duration: 45 minutes
Year: 1965
Collab.: Cage, Paik, VanDerBeek