Merce Cunningham Trust

Totem Ancestor 1942

PREMIERE DATE October 20, 1942
PREMIERE VENUE Humphrey-Weidman Studio Theatre
MUSIC John Cage Totem Ancestor
COSTUMES Charlotte Trowbridge
DURATION 3 minutes
ORGINAL CAST Merce Cunningham
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.