Choreography / 1959


This piece was the realization of Cunningham’s wish to create a dance without a fixed order. By using chance procedures, the dance would change from performance to performance. "Rune" explores space in a layered way, with independent events happening in the foreground, middle, and rear of the stage, all simultaneously viewed by the audience. The music first used for "Rune" was Christian Wolff's composition "for 6 or 7 players" (alternately titled "Music for Merce Cunningham"). For a later revival of the dance, because 6 or 7 players were not available, John Cage and David Tudor played Wolff's "Duo for pianists I & II." When the dance was again revived, in the 1990s, Wolff's "Or 4 People" was used. Cage wrote that the score, “sometimes restricts the performers to particular notes, and at other times allows them freedom of choice in terms of all the aspects of sound.” Rauschenberg designed the costumes, which were leotards and tights dyed in various shades of brown.


Premiere Date

Aug 14, 1959

Premiere Venue

American Dance Festival, Connecticut College

Premiere Location

New London, CT


Christian Wolff, For 6 or 7 players (also called Music for Merce Cunningham)

Christian Wolff, Duo for pianists I & II

Christian Wolff, Or Four People


Robert Rauschenberg


Robert Rauschenberg


Robert Rauschenberg


25 minutes

Original Cast

Carolyn Brown

Remy Charlip

Merce Cunningham

Judith Dunn

Viola Farber

Marilyn Wood

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