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Baryshnikov Arts Center Presents "Unavailable Memory: In Conversation with Cunningham & Cage"

Baryshnikov Arts Center Presents "Unavailable Memory: In Conversation with Cunningham & Cage"


Baryshnikov Arts Center


Jerome Robbins Theater
Baryshnikov Arts Center
New York, NY


Thursday, October 27, 2022 - 7:30pm daily through October 29, 2022



Baryshnikov Arts Center



Unavailable Memory: In Conversation with Cunningham & Cage is an evening of dance and music presenting Merce Cunningham’s Totem Ancestor (1942) and Loops (1971) and six piano compositions by John Cage. Presented in conversation with these historic works will be new choreography by four students from The Juilliard School, developed with mentorship from Rashaun Mitchell, telemetries3, a new sound composition by John King made in response to Gordon Mumma’s original score for Loops (1971), and the World Premiere of Tether by Bebe Miller Company. Co-Produced by The Merce Cunningham Trust, Unavailable Memory: In Conversation with Cunningham & Cage presents a multi-faceted conversation between music and dance, youth and maturity, and reconstruction and invention.


Unavailable Memory: In Conversation with Cunningham & Cage

October 27-29 at 7:30PM

Jerome Robbins Theater

Tickets: $25 at bacnyc.org

Running time: 60 minutes


Unavailable Memory:  In Conversation with Cunningham & Cage was conceived and curated by Patricia Lent expressly for these performances at Baryshnikov Arts Center.




Totem Ancestor (1942)

Choreographer: Merce Cunningham

Music: John Cage, Totem Ancestor (1942)

Dancer: Mac Twining

Pianist: Adam Tendler

Stager: Daniel Madoff

Costume Designer: Charlotte Trowbridge

Lighting Designer: Davison Scandrett


Totem Ancestor was first performed by Merce Cunningham on October 20, 1942 at the Humphrey-Weidman Studio Theatre in New York City. October 2022 marks the 80th anniversaryof that premiere.

Totem Ancestor (1942) by Merce Cunningham © Merce Cunningham Trust. All rights reserved.


Loops for Three (1971/2022)

Choreographer: Merce Cunningham

Music: John King, telemetries3 (2022)

Dancers:  Molissa Fenley, Justin Lynch, Chaery Moon

Musician: John King

Stager: Patricia Lent

Lighting Designer: Davison Scandrett


Loops was first performed by Merce Cunningham on December 3, 1971 at the Museum of Modern Art. The dance, which Cunningham described as “an event for a soloist” comprises a series of short task-like segments with names like Slap, Chair, Shuffle, Slide, etcetera. For thisproduction, Patricia Lent has drawn on archival resources to make a new arrangement for three dancers entitled Loops for Three. The original music for Loops was Gordon Mumma’s composition Loops: Biophysical and Ambient Signals from FM Telemetry. John King’s new composition, telemetries3, is a continuation of Mumma’s idea to use heartbeats and breathing as the sonic and rhythmic component of the work. In this new version, the material is tripled, interacting and coalescing in randomly determined ways, at times coming directly from the dancers and at other times overlapping in more complex relationships.


Loops (1971) by Merce Cunningham © Merce Cunningham Trust. All rights reserved.


Four World Premieres

Choreography: Connor Freeman, Matthew Johnson, Griffin Massey, Lindsay Phillips

Music: John Cage, A Valentine Out of Season (1944), Root of an Unfocus (1944), The Unavailable Memory Of (1944), In the Name of the Holocaust (1942)

Dancers: Connor Freeman, Matthew Johnson, Griffin Massey, Lindsay Phillips

Pianist: Adam Tendler

Choreographic Mentor: Rashaun Mitchell

Lighting Designer: Davison Scandrett


These four prepared piano works by John Cage were the music for four early dances by Merce Cunningham. Cage’s A Valentine Out of Season was the music for a trio Cunningham choreographed for Tanaquil LeClerq, Betty Nichols, and himself. The dance, called Effusions avant l’heure, was first performed on June 10, 1949 at Jean Hélion’s Studio in Paris. Cage’s Root of an Unfocus and The Unavailable Memory Of were the music for two Cunningham solos by the same titles which premiered on April 5, 1944 at the Humphrey-Weidman Studio in New York City. This was the first joint concert given by Cage and Cunningham. In the Name of the Holocaust (a word play by James Joyce on “In the name of the Holy Ghost”) was the title usedby Cage and Cunningham for a work they premiered on February 14, 1943 at The Arts Club ofChicago. Little is known about the original Cunningham choreography for these four dances aside from anecdotal accounts and a few images.


Bebe Miller Company

Tether (World Premiere)

Dancers: Angie Hauser, Darrell Jones, Bebe Miller

Music: John Cage, Dream

Pianist: Adam Tendler


Tether is an improvised dance, sparked by curiosity about Cunningham and Cage’s manner of exchange with each other and their collaborators, and the evidence of the tethers they have left behind. Featuring Bebe Miller, Angie Hauser, and Darrell Jones, who share a 20-plus-year creative scrutiny via dance-making together, Tetherwelcomes Cunningham as a fourth partner. The work asks: might Loops as a text amplify some aspect of the artists’ own shared practice? Could Cunningham’s notion of coexisting and predetermined materials serve as a trigger, a tether, for their own artistic interests? Adam Tendler’s rendition of Cage’s music score acts as a parallel connection to the Cage/Cunningham conversation.

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