Merce Cunningham Trust

Crises (1961) 1961

LENGTH 21 minutes
DIRECTOR Helen Priest Rogers, Archivist
PRODUCER American Dance Festival
DISTRIBUTOR Alexander Street Press
MUSIC Rhythm Studies for player piano, Conlon Nancarrow
DANCERS Carolyn Brown, Merce Cunningham, Judith Dunn, Viola Farber, Marilyn Wood
First performed at the13th American Dance Festival in the summer of 1960, "Crises" was described by Cunningham as “an adventure in togetherness.” Choreographed for four women and one man, the dance focused on physical contact between the dancers. The physical entanglements came both through holding each other and being held, and through elastic bands, worn around a wrist, an arm, a waist or a leg, which connected the dancers in various positions. Cage noted, “This is a dramatic, though not a narrative, dance concerned with decisive moments in the relationship between a man and four women.” Conlon Nancarrow’s musical score reinforced the dance’s harsh atmosphere with an assortment of jangling rhythms, and Rauschenberg’s costumes were leotards in various shades of red, evoking the romance of the piece. Filmed in rehearsal at the American Dance Festival, Connecticut College, New London, CT.