Music: Louis Horst.
Choreography: Martha Graham.
Sets by Arch Lauterer, redesigned later by Isamu Noguchi.
Costumes by E. Gilfond.
Premiere: Aug 11, 1940 by the Martha Graham Dance Company (Bennington College Theater, Bennington, Vermont).
Dancers at the premiere: Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Eric Hawkins.
El Penitente is a dance of the Penitentes of the Southwest,
a sect which believes in the purification from sin through severe penance.
Even today, the sect practices its ancient rites, though they are
banned by the Catholic Church as unholy acts. (...) El Penitente
is presented in the manner of the old traveling shows. Isamu Noguchi
designed the original set, including a screen, which covered
over the girl- Virgin, Magdalen, Mother- when she had committed
the crime, the seduction of the penitent.
In the original production, Erick was the Penitent, and Merce Cunningham, the Christ figure.
(Martha Graham, Blood Memory)