Choreography / 1942

Totem Ancestor

The Early Years highlights Merce Cunningham’s life and work through 1949.

Originally created as an addition to a joint concert including Cunningham and two fellow members of the Graham Company, Jean Erdman and Nina Fonaroff. This brief solo by Cunningham was performed on a diagonal line, as he traveled the stage leaping from kneeling and crouched positions. Cage wrote the music once the dance had been completed, and costume design was by Charlotte Trowbridge: a black leotard with staggered grey stripes. This piece was one of the few Cunningham dances to have been recorded in Labanotation, by Lena Belloc.

Details

Premiere Date

Oct 20, 1942

Premiere Venue

Humphrey-Weidman Studio Theatre

Premiere Location

New York, NY

Music

John Cage, Totem Ancestor

Costumes

Charlotte Trowbridge

Duration

3 minutes

Original Cast

Merce Cunningham

Explore the Dance Capsule

Explore More

Other Choreography

Title
Duration
Year
Collaborator(s)
Jazz Epigram
Duration: Length unknown
Year: 1938
Collab.: Toch
Unbalanced March
Duration: 7 minutes
Year: 1938
Collab.: Hindemith
Skinny Structures
Duration: Length unknown
Year: 1939
Collab.: Casella, Milhaud, Wiener, Petyrek
Courante, Contagion
Duration: 7 minutes
Year: 1939
Collab.: Williams
Renaissance Testimonials
Duration: 5 - 7 minutes
Year: 1942
Collab.: Powers, Trowbridge
Seeds of Brightness
Duration: Length unknown
Year: 1942
Collab.: Lloyd, Trowbridge
Credo in Us
Duration: Length unknown
Year: 1942
Collab.: Cage, Trowbridge
Ad Lib
Duration: Length unknown
Year: 1942
Collab.: Cage, Tucker, Trowbridge