Choreography / 1965

Variations V

A large mixed-media piece involving the use of film and also, when possible, of video images distorted by Nam June Paik. John Cage also decided to find ways for the dancers’ movement to trigger the sound. The first was a series of antennae placed around the stage; when a dancer came within the radius of one of these, a sound would result, from among the battery of electronic instruments operated by the company musicians. The second was a series of photo-electric cells placed at the base of the antennae, for a similar purpose. (In performance, these electronic devices often failed to work.) In addition to the dance sequences that moved around these antennae, Cunningham devised a number of non-dance activities with objects fitted with contact microphones that contributed to the sounds. The dancers wore practice clothes, to which street clothes could be added (no designer was credited).


Premiere Date

Jul 23, 1965

Premiere Venue

Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center

Premiere Location

New York, NY


John Cage, Variations V


Nam June Paik

Stan VanDerBeek




45 minutes

Original Cast

Carolyn Brown

Merce Cunningham

Barbara Lloyd

Sandra Neels

Albert Reid

Peter Saul

Gus Solomons jr

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