Merce Cunningham Trust

Story 1964

LENGTH 20 minutes
DIRECTOR Heikki Seppala
DESIGNERS Robert Rauschenberg
PRODUCER Finnish Broadcasting Company
DISTRIBUTOR Alexander Street Press
MUSIC Sapporo, Toshi Ichiyanagi
MUSICIANS John Cage, David Tudor
DANCERS Merce Cunningham, Carolyn Brown, Viola Farber, William Davies, Steve Paxton, Deborah Hay, Barbara Lloyd, Sandra Neels, Albert Reid
The structure of this dance is indeterminate: there are eighteen sections—solos, duets, trios, and larger units--whose order is changeable. A basic order, determined by chance, was posted in the wings but could also be affected by a dancer giving a movement cue to another dancer. Toshi Ichiyanagi’s music is a composition for sustained sounds, without attack and continuous. Robert Rauschenberg constructed a set made of materials he found around the theater on the day of a given performance, which would be dismantled afterwards. He also collected a number of garments that were packed in two duffel bags and then dumped in the wings. The dancers were free to wear these at any time over their basic costume, yellow leotard and tights for the women, black tights and blue leotards for the men. (Cunningham wore a shirt and sweat pants.) This kinescope of a live telecast in Helsinki in 1964 is a unique record of "Story" in performance.