On October 28, 2012, Movement Research held a Studies Project at the New Museum, A Pluralistic View of the Judson Dance Theater Legacy. This event was a conversation between Aileen Passloff and Yvonne Rainer, moderated by Wendy Perron. 50 years after the first Judson Dance Theater concert at the Judson Gym, Aileen and Yvonne harken memories of their earliest experimental gestures in the New York postmodern downtown scene. In this conversation we find mythology, influential lineage, and the spirited collective memory of a youthful energy that the Judson legacy has left behind for us to bask in their glow. What a treat to reimagine the postmodern downtown dance scene from the memories of people who were there.
-Mariana Valencia, co-editor
Travis Chamberlain: Alright, good afternoon ladies and gentleman, thank you so much for coming, very excited to see you guys here, braving the calm before the storm. My name is Travis Chamberlain, Public Programs Coordinator here at the New Museum, and I'm also the curator of Performance in Residence here. We do a series called Renew, Replay, which this residency is a part. The residency is called Movement Research in Residence: Rethinking the Imprint of Judson Dance Theater 50 Years Later. Alright, so it's a massive residency that's taking place from, started in September and It's running through December 16th, it involves a series of public programs much like this one, this is the first contextualizing program that we have as part of the residency, but the really main component of this residency is a series of four week-long performance research residencies, where we have 5 different individual artists and one collective and one collective apparatus, that are all responding to four audience-nominated prompts/proposals, regarding what are the most relevant issues that contemporary performers are carrying with them today that they feel began with Judson Dance Theater. This program is made possible in part through the support of the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Education and public programs are made possible by a generous grant from the Goldman Sachs Gives at the recommendation of David and Hermine Heller.
Wendy Perron: I thought we'd kind of divide it in half and first talk about what these two women remember, you know, what your experience of Judson was, and the second half would be sort of the rethinking part in the sense of what was the legacy, what we think the legacy is and what you think it is, so we want your input in that too. But I want to start with when I, about 30 years ago I got very involved as a faculty member at Bennington College in doing a whole Judson Project reconstructions and videotapes and stuff, and Yvonne was part of it, and Trisha Brown was part of it, and David Gordon, and what I found doing research is that whenever you think something is the beginning of something, it really goes back before that. So July 6th, 1962 was the first concert of Judson, but there were things before that, obviously there was a Robert Dunn workshop, where we have Movement Research reissued the edition of the tribute to Robert Dunn, which was 1997, but before that there was something called Dance Associates and Aileen was part of it and I have never really heard what that was and it was in the 50s, so I'd love for Aileen to say what the Dance Associates was, I know Jimmy Waring was part of it David Vaughan was part of it, and I think Paul Taylor too (Aileen: I think so too) So I'd like to hear about that and to know if Yvonne knew about that but let's hear from Aileen first, because what was that?
Aileen Passloff: Jimmy Waring was not only part of it, it was he who organized it. Jimmy Waring saw us all as artists, not any kind of kind of hierarchy, so if you were a writer you were included, if you were in Mr. Balanchine's company, you were included, if you were a sculptor, or a painter or a dancer, Edwin Denby was part of Dance Associates, thank god, yes as was Paul Taylor, as was Marian Sarach, so that there were modern dancers, ballet dancers, Tanaquil LeClercq, one of Balanchine's wives, the gorgeous gorgeous dancer, was also part of it. It was central to who Jimmy was that the doors were open, all inclusive, we were not playwrights or writers or sculptors, all of us were artists interested in making something that was beautiful, that had some kind of truthfulness in it, you know. Anyone, so that was Dance Associates.
Wendy: But did they get together and talk or was it a performance venue?
Aileen: Okay. We--Jimmy Waring lived in a slave house, in the back of another house that had no heat, and we all sat and talked about projects that we were going to do, and what needed-- there were-- John Herbert McDowell might have been part of that group as well, so that there were composers there as well as dancers and playwrights and actors and miscellania, I don't know whether Dance Associates presented work or not, but I know my earliest performances with Jimmy were at the 92nd st Y
Wendy: What year?
Aileen: Oh goodness gracious...if I say it I'll be lying. (WP: In the 50s?) In the 50s, yes, and the music was Hy Gubernick who was also part of that group. That's what I remember of that time. This incredible sense of collaboration of people. Nobody having their nose in the breeze, only what needs to be done, let's do it. You know...it was about community as I think Judson was also about community.
Wendy: And were you aware of the Dance Associates?
Yvonne Rainer: Vaguely, I mean I don't remember where I met Jimmy Waring, I wanted to...I think I wanted to dance with you, Aileen.
Aileen: I know, and I was too stupid to know how to use you (laughter)
Yvonne: Yeah, and so--
Aileen: Because you had this piece at first called Tea and the...something something
Wendy: Tea at the Palazza Poon is the piece you saw
Yvonne: Yes! I saw Aileen dance this solo where she sat and she had a bustle and she outlined her breasts and nipples and she put a pencil in her mouth and she did things I'd never seen...I hadn't seen much dance but I thought, this was at The Living Theater, and I thought, "Oh, I'd like to dance with her" so at that time I just started dancing with--dancing--studying with Merce Cunningham and so I thought, "ah she goes to Jimmy Waring's classes. "Somehow I knew that, so I thought, "I better go where she goes" and that's where I met you, and I don't know whether I put it to you boldly, that... so I started studying with Jimmy. And Jimmy was this amazing person who could make, what do you call it... silk purses out of sow's ears, I mean he had all kinds of people in his company, they were too short or too inexperienced or too this or too that, to dance in so-called "professional" companies and he found ways to make us all shine onstage, so within a year, I think, this was 1960 and within less than a year he invited into his company, so I didn't dance with you, I got to dance with Jimmy. And, yeah.
Aileen: I sent you to Jimmy, because I thought, "Oh, all I know about is classical ballet", ‘cause my background was School of American Ballet, Ballet Russe, Ballet Theater, all I knew about was that, but I knew enough to know she was hot, but I didn't...
Yvonne: No, you didn't see me do anything
Aileen: I could see who you were. I knew who you were. (Laughter) And so I said go to Jimmy, he'll know how to use you.
Yvonne: He gave a ballet class where he sat and he did this (Laughter)
Wendy: An addendum to Jimmy because I just did a conversation with David Gordon and Valda Setterfield, and that's how they met, was in David's Gordon's class. I mean, Jimmy Waring's class, and Jimmy said, "you two should do a duet together." So, that's the beginning of that story also.
Wendy: Yeah, so he was very much the beginning, and obviously the whole, interdisciplinary thing, he was very supported by him too.
Aileen: He could see beauty in everybody, you know.
Yvonne: But his work, you know, it was very eclectic, he would do the pure white leotard and type and Cunningham type of stuff and he would do these campy, all-inclusive, collage kinds of things also, I mean he had a lot of different dimensions in his own work.
Wendy: And also I think he designed costumes for some people, and he did sound for some people.
Aileen: He wrote music. He wrote music for Bellis In the Garden He designed costumes, he did the flyers...
Yvonne: He sewed the costumes. He often would bring the materials to class and he'd be embroidering... they're very elaborate costumes sometimes too.
Aileen: Do you remember...I could shut up I know how to do that...one time... Jimmy would have us sew on little things, a little piece of felt, and a little piece of jewel, and a little piece of net, and a little pearl, and he would sew this little thing and then he would put it under six layers of a skirt, and I would say, "but Jimmy nobody's going to see that" and he said "but they'll feel it."
Yvonne: "They'll sense it" and (Aileen: he was right)
Wendy: Because you could sense it, right?
Aileen: No, it was, the audience senses everything it was about that, it was about having respect for the audience in a very deep way. He had respect for us and he had respect for them.
Wendy: Now, let me go to another influence, because we could be here forever but we do want to end by 4:30. So, another influence-- Anna Halprin, which I don't know if you studied with her but I know that Yvonne did and other Judson people did. What was her influence on you.
Yvonne: Um, carrying things. I took her summer course and it was the activities took place on this open-air dance deck in Marin County and it was there I met Simone--no, I met Simone in New York...
Wendy: And Simone suggested you go to her...
Yvonne: Right! She had performed with her already and, yeah, so I went out, in fact drove across the country with her. And Trisha was there, I met Trisha for the first time, so there was a lot of running around that deck holding tree branches and stuff. I mean, they were beautiful madrone trees, and it was a lot of the work was very nature-oriented, which was kind of alien to me, I never gravitated toward either performing in nature or interpreting it in any way. But, I was absorbing everything that came my way in those days and the idea of carrying something while you were moving...they were also...Lamont Young was there that summer and doing, giving assignments for sound and people were, extemporizing with sounds while they moved, and I remember a piece I did... Oh that's where Trisha pushed this broom with such force that her body was momentary horizontal, parallel to the floor and she was splayed out in the air.
Wendy: Sorry, I have to interrupt you, because when I worked with Trisha in the 70s she tried to make us do that. Not with a broom, but she tried to make us jump out, and hover, horizontally.
Yvonne: Yeah, she could do it.
Wendy: We assistants had a mat under us but after a while she gave up because we couldn't really hold it that long there. Some of these ideas keep going. Um, so was the word task thrown around at that time?
Yvonne: I didn't hear the word task, maybe it was thrown around but I didn't become aware of it until much later after Judson when Annette Michelson came over to me and she says, well it's clear you're involved with "tasks" and "oh, yes, that's what I'm doing"
Wendy: I'm going to move to another influence, Merce Cunningham and John Cage, for both of you, what was your experience in being around that or being Merce's work be around at that time, I know you were studying there, so I'd like to hear both of you talk about that. (Yvonne: About Merce's influence?) Merce and John.
Yvonne: Oh, well, Merce always said we were John's babies, not his. (Wendy: We meaning Judson Dance Theater) Yeah, right.
Wendy: And, so why did he disclaim you? (Laughter)
Yvonne: That's interesting, why did we reject him, you know, when we started making work that ended up at Judson. We all studied with him or performed with him, I didn't but Paxton, (Wendy: Yeah, Steve Paxton) Judith Dunn (Wendy: Judith Dunn, Valda Setterfield...) Valda, Barbara Dilley (Wendy: Deborah Hay were all part of Judson, all were dancing with Merce) Dancing with him, and their own work was as far from his as they could possibly get, but that was... I have to say something now, there's something in the...I'm reverting to a very solipsistic curmudgeon mode now. There's something in the The New York Times today announcing my shows at Danspace later in the week. It says "she eliminated technique." (Laughter) The, I mean, in the spirit of disabusing or dismantling preconceptions, or misconceptions about Judson, that it was all about pedestrian movement. I mean...it was not. You can attest to that and there was all kinds of work and I, I think to distinguish myself somewhat from the real minimal work that was going on, or anti-dance as it was called, then, I was using everything that came my way, including a classical adagio that I learned in ballet class, you know? Including what I'd learned from Cunningham, the spareness, the clarity of what he gave us to do, the way of doing one thing with the upper body and something else with the lower limbs. So, I would say I was involved in a kind of eclecticism, as Jimmy was, previously. So, and then of course the Dunn class introduced the aleatory, the chance methodologies of Cage. So all of this was feeding into I and my peers who were exposed to Happenings, to the Pop Art, to all kinds of things that were happening at the same time.
Wendy: Do you want to talk about Merce?
Aileen: Sure I do, I want to talk about everything. When I first saw Merce Dancing I fell in love with those solos where he looked like a sataur or something like that, they were so, like an animal, really. (Yvonne: yeah, it was very animal-like) And that really blew me away, you know. Later on, it seemed to get to be about something else and I was a little bit...I admired them but it wasn't the same kind of deep effect on me as those early pieces, the early group pieces as well as those early solos which were exquisite. Merce would come to see my company as would did John Cage, and he saw Barbara Dilley-Lloyd in my company, and he saw Valda in my company, and he saw David Gordon in my company, I mean, I had hot dancers, I had extraordinary dancers. I felt so lucky to be in this time where I was seeing Merce's work and her work. I remember the first time I saw Yvonne's work--I had a studio on 8th Street and 2nd Avenue and I shared it later with Yvonne and with Jimmy, but there was a meeting of Judson there the first time and Steve Paxton was showing something (Yvonne: where was this) at 8th Street and 2nd Avenue at my studio (Yvonne: Oh, right, we shared a studio on the top floor)
Wendy: The two of you had the same studio (Aileen: Yes!) (Yvonne: with Jimmy. The three of us)
Aileen: Yes, I found that studio, I invited Jimmy in and I invited you and then later Simone, or I think Simone came in. And we looked at this work and we sat in a circle afterwards and you said, "Could everyone say one sentence about this work that we had seen" and it was something of Steve's and I was like dumbfounded, because I couldn't find the passion in it. (Yvonne: Oh, where's the passion?) Yeah, 'cause I was used to that something else this thing.
Wendy: Was it Flat the one where he takes off the shirts and hangs it on himself?
Aileen: No, it was my lack of perception, (laughter) no, for truth, for truth I just... I had never seen anything like that and I had never seen anything like that. But man, you know, that (sound) and it wasn't like I understood it intellectually, I understood it viscerally. As I understood your work, later. You know, it made an imprint on my flesh, about how I looked at everything after seeing their work, you know, it just...it changed me. But it was not that it came in through my head, it came in another way, you know. But, you know, you speak about full-out dancing. I think what Yvonne does is full-out dancing, and what I mean by full-out dancing is fulling committing oneself to that action you're taking, not playing it safe, not standing outside of it, but just do the work--not doing more than the work, not doing less than the work, doing the work. And Yvonne did that and I tried to do that in my work and sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I didn't. Anyway.
Wendy: Can I ask you about John Cage, and, he was, as Yvonne said Robert Dunn was teaching these chance technique in the workshop that were from the Cage ideas. What did you think of the chance methods, were you using them--
Aileen: I used them, because I learned them from Jimmy, you know, who copied scores for John, and for Merce by hand, this way, you know.
Wendy: Jimmy Waring copied scores for John Cage?
Aileen: Yes, for John, yes. He didn't feel the edges of that John over there, it was all of us, it was this big, you know. Different story. No no go interrupt me.
Yvonne: It's very interesting hearing you describe Dance Associates and, which is almost a description of the openness of the Judson workshops. But I remember that Jimmy, when we first...after our first concert Jimmy said to me, "Oh it will be good for informal presentations," because he was dedicated to the proscenium art, right, and that was where you always performed, in that kind of situation. (Aileen: It's true)
Wendy: So you felt a slight dismissal or something (Yvonne: Yeah, yeah, yeah) and Jimmy didn't actually perform as a part of Judson Dance Theater 'til later. (Yvonne: Yeah, later he did) So he was kind of acting like you were the children or... (Yvonne: Yeah, right.)
Aileen: Can I talk a little bit about Jimmy. He was my mentor, my teacher. If I know anything at all about making dances I think I learned it from Jimmy. Because Jimmy taught me to say yes to everything. No was a closed door and yes was an open door. So it meant try it! Find out something about it, you know. Jimmy's work, which, it's as Yvonne said, he loved proscenium, he loved the yegelef, vaxt all the gorgeous rich old costumes, and old music, but he also knew about, it was Jimmy who taught me about electronic music. He taught me... Jackson McLow, we went we listened to poetry, we went, we saw everything. We climbed up a fire escape at City Center to see the ballet every night, he taught me how to do that too.
Yvonne: I snuck in at intermission.
Aileen: Oh, that was more discrete. We went up the fire escape.
Wendy: David Gordon talks about that too, David and Valda talk about Jimmy Waring as their mentor, told them what museums to go to, what films to see, everything.
But, I also want to talk about The Living Theater, because I know that his studio was in the building of The Living Theater, and you guys were, your piece was done at The Living Theater, the one that you first saw. So what was the influence of Living Theater on both of you.
Aileen: Oh, also thank God for The Living Theater. I mean, I can't talk about The Living Theater so much without talking about the politics of that time, that was the time of the Vietnamese war, the time of McCarthyism, it was a time of repression, and the work that was going on there was in revolution. Of saying we can't stand that anymore we have to do something different. You know, and yes I mean I did Falk I did Yeats plays there, I did... Larry Kornfeld directed Full Moon in March, I also did something Frank O'Hara, it was a whole bunch of stuff, I was doing plays there.
Yvonne: Yeah, I went to everything there, Brecht and Pirandello.
Aileen: The Brig!
Yvonne: Yeah, The Brig was one
Wendy: You were acting in plays or performing in them?
Aileen: Yes! Acting and directing and choreographing, whatever needed to get done.
Yvonne: Tiny stage, yeah.
Aileen: Jimmy did dances before The Wall at The Living Theater... were you in that?
Yvonne: That was just before my time with him, yeah.
Aileen: Because Julian Beck did the set for Jimmy
Yvonne: Uh huh, right. I thought he did that at Hunter College, no?
Aileen: Living Theater, yeah
Wendy: Was that a political piece?
Aileen: No, it was an archaeological dig, you know Julian Beck made a set that was so rich and so layered and dense and it was like you shake dust off a place and it's life and something you'd never seen before, it was filled with mystery and sense of discovery, there were little doors that opened up in the set
Yvonne: And he used all different kinds of music, Mahler and --
Aileen: Yes, it was an extraordinary piece
Yvonne: Yeah, I've heard about it. Jimmy gave me my first opportunity to present my early work, and I think we shared that program, 1961 on The Living Theater stage, and I did Three Seascapes I think, and something called--
Aileen: I think it was called Three Satie Spoons
Yvonne: Three Satie Spoons!
Aileen: ...which was an assignment in Robert Dunn's class
Yvonne: Right, right, and you did something (Aileen: Poor Jimmy, gave me everything) Yeah
Aileen: Jimmy paid for the studio, I really talk too much, I'll be short. Okay, Jimmy said "you should choreograph" and I said, "but I'd rather dance," and he said "who else do you think is going to choreograph for you?" (Yvonne: yeah...) And I thought about that...he was right! And so he rented a studio for me, he paid the studio for me, he sat in a corner and read a book some place, then he took me home to his house and fed me scrambled eggs, so... Jimmy did this for me
Yvonne: This brings up something else...the economics of that time. Jimmy worked in the mailroom of Time Life and out of that he paid for you and his costumes, and rental of spaces of all that. You could do that then. It was a full-time job, right? But then, we, Judson, we did not talk about real estate, or. I didn't even know how people made a living, I had a small stipend from my parents, someone had a part-time job, someone...Steve was dancing with Merce and got a small salary. So, we had no ambition or no idea of making a living from what we did, and this gave us a certain kind of freedom, to fool around, to play, to fail, to fart around. And that is the spirit out of which that, those concerts came.
Wendy: I want to ask you about the word ordinary, because Robert Dunn would say in his class, you know, "go from what's ordinary," and I wonder if you think, this is for both of you, but the thing about the technique you know that someone says you eliminated technique, is that some writer confusing "ordinary" with "no technique"? What did it mean to you, this value of ordinary?
Yvonne: I remember the very first workshop in which Robert said "do something that's nothing special, and as he spoke (gets up to do something) and he covered a lot of territory.
Wendy: And he liked it right, he thought that was a great dance, the one that you just did, right?
Yvonne: No, no. It was nothing special. (Laughter) But, you could start bringing these nothing specials into the dance arena, in through the palace gates of high art. I mean they said of me, in one review of those concerts, "she walks as though she's in the street" this was anathema to the dance critics. You were supposed to transform this ordinary body into something more than human, and that was the...they spoke of aspiration. You were always supposed to aspire to some higher realm, as a performer, and Jimmy provided precedence for that.
Aileen: We looked and we saw that maybe walking in the street was just as beautiful, or just as important as that arabesque, you know. Or those fouettes, or whatever it was that I also was in love with. That's still my practice and my study, and also the ugliness was something worth investigating, as well as beauty. That ugliness can be just as interesting, or provocative in some way, and so... it was about that, and daring to look anywhere.
Yvonne: I have to mention one other experience I had that was very inspirational for me. Erick Hawkins who had danced with and married Martha, he was married to her. Well, he... I went to something called, up at the 92nd Street Y, Here and Now with Watchers he did very mythological things, however, in the middle of all this, female dancer carried one of his objects, she walked and placed it center stage and walked out. By that time, this was '57, I was beginning to go up to the 92nd Street, every weekend there were modern dance concerts, and I had never seen anyone just walk, and put something down and go away. This was ordinary. So, you know, already this idea of the ordinary was around to be grabbed and exploited.
Wendy: And didn't it also relate to what the visual artists were doing?
Yvonne: Of course detritus and junk (Wendy: found objects), and cartoons, (Wendy: soup cans) and the whole nine yards, yeah soup cans.
Wendy: I think it was a major shift, because I think it did help teach people that someone walking in the street could be as beautiful or as watchable as someone doing an arabesque.
Aileen: And what we were wearing, too, what we wore in the street was quite as interesting or maybe more interesting than those tutus or what was called "dance costume"
Wendy: Unless Jimmy sewed it... (laughter)
Aileen: But I remember it was revolutionary the time I wore stockings and heels and a dress onstage, that was very shocking. I didn't do it to be shocking, but rather to show, my God this is also beautiful.
Wendy: You were also both in Al Carmines' production of Gertrude Stein's What Happened. You both were performers in that musical. Al Carmines was the senior minister who actually said "yes you can come and do dances here" but he also was a composer and lyricist, but I never saw What Happened, what were your roles like that you did in that.
Yvonne: Well, we were the two who couldn't carry a tune, right? (Laughter) (Aileen: absolutely, couldn't carry a tune to save my life) I remember standing next to you around the piano and we looked at each other, lip synching.
Wendy: Why did he have you in it then?
Yvonne: Well, you know, we had performers who couldn't dance, why not some singers who can't sing?
Wendy: And this was part of Judson Poets Theater, which was another sort of, it was all at Judson Church. There was Judson Poets Theater and Judson Art Gallery, which made a context for you guys coming there. And I do... (Aileen: It was Howard Moody, who opened those doors and said "Playwrights, come on in! Sculptors, come on in! Dancers, whoever you are, writers! There's room for you in this place, doesn't matter what your sexual preference is, anything, you're welcome!) But, I mean, probably many of you know this, but some people don't so I just want Yvonne to say it again. After studying with Robert Dunn in those workshops and deciding you wanted to show your work, Judson was not the first place that you went to.
Yvonne: Ah, okay. There was this annual, what was it called... (Aileen: An audition, kind of) auditions, at the 92nd Street (Aileen: I think they had an annual audition for young people) yeah Young Choreographer's Concert, every year. And Jack Moore was one of the jurors, there were three, Marion Scott, Jack Moore, and someone else (Aileen: Martha Hill probably...) no, not Martha Hill, I don't think so... anyway we auditioned. Steve, Lucinda Childs, Ruth Emerson, Trisha and I went to the studio somewhere downtown. (Aileen: It wasn't at the 92nd Street Y?) No, it was downtown, and we all, Steve, I don't remember what Steve...Oh! Steve did that dance where he marks ballet steps, right? I forget the name of it. I did Three Satie Spoons, I don't remember what Trisha did.
Wendy: I think that might have been David and not Trisha
Yvonne: Oh, maybe it was David, okay. And we were all redacted. Yeah. Interestingly, years, some years later when I revived that first solo of mine and Nancy Green, I taught it to her, it was at this little theater, The Cubiculo over on the west side. (Aileen: Oh yeah! 51st street.) Jack was an old friend of Nancy's and I was at the rehearsal and Jack was sitting behind me and he leaned over while Nancy was performing and he said, "We were wrong..." (Laughter) "Vindication"
Wendy: But, that rejection made history. (Yvonne: Yeah! Then we had to look for a place)
I want to open it out to people but before I do I just want to ask...although I actually hate getting into definitions, I just want to know what does postmodern mean to you, and where do you think the word first came up. (Laughter)
Yvonne: Could mean anything in the last 30, 40 years. It hasn't been supplanted by anything, they don't call it post-post, but I don't know, maybe someone in the audience can define it.
Wendy: Okay Liz, yeah. This is Liz Keen who was also part of Judson Dance Theater.
Liz: I was there, I was also part of Dance Theater Workshop in the early days, which siphoned off people who didn't say no to drama or narrative, but I always think of that time as...by predominant modern techniques were Graham technique and Limon technique and everybody who was in those companies who was doing there own work, and everybody who studied there, they all used those that vocabulary, and for me that vocabulary was worn out. It no longer was the old wine in the old bottles, and so when I think of postmodern I think of the break with those vocabularies. I mean, certainly in relation to Judson.
Wendy: Yeah, I think of, what Judson did was really clean the slate and start at the beginning. And I felt like each one of you did that in your own way. Steve's way was doing very un-passionate walking, Trisha's way might have been falling, you know your way was what you did that eventually became...eventually fed into Trio A. But I think each of you had a way of just scraping everything down to what your beginning was, and sort of built it back up again. Um, Mimi
Mimi: I just wanted to... you mentioned Edwin Denby and as a person who personally he inspired and certainly mentored me in my life, he wrote a great book called Dancers, Buildings and People in the Street and I wanted to recommend that to anyone who has not read it, or his other dance writings.
Wendy: Yeah, on that note I just want to also recommend the obvious one is Sally Banes Terpsichore in Green Sneakers, and she also wrote Democracy's Body: Judson Dance Theater from 1962-64, also in talking about the bodies, the ordinary bodies, Deborah Jowitt has a chapter in her book, Time and the Dancing Image, I think the chapter is called "Ordinary Bodies" in which she talks about how the whole aesthetic changed.
Mimi: There's also Mildred Todd, The Thinking Body (Wendy: Yeah), really inspiring book
Wendy: Yeah, which is more about somatic practice.
Mimi: More about feeling one's own gravity, and one's own movement from oneself, which I think slowly in movement research in particular has evolved enormously.
Wendy: Well, and people like Elaine Summers and June Ekman were very much part of that somatic practice movement. Back there?
Paul Langland: Hi, it's Paul Langland. I wanted to ask you more about Robert Ellis Dunn's background and was he friends with Jimmy Waring and John Cage and Anna Halprin and Cunningham or...where did he come from. I know when I talked with him once he talked about how Laban worked, really just enlightened him so much, but where did he come from and what was his relationship to you folks?
Yvonne: He was a trained musician, he accompanied Merce's dance classes on the piano, he was a disciple of John Cage, and what else...
Wendy: He also accompanied for Martha Graham's classes. (Yvonne: Oh, I didn't know that) And he'd been a tap dancer and he took John Cage's class at the New School in Experimental Music and a lot of seminal musicians took that class. (Yvonne: Jackson MacLow and Allen Kaprow I think) Yeah, people who did the Happenings were in that class too, and actually, Cage was before the Robert Dunn. Before the Robert Dunn workshops Cage was teaching at the Merce Studio and he handed it over to Robert Dunn he got sick of teaching the class. But that's why Barbara Bryan and Movement Research reprinted the Movement Research Performance Journal that was a tribute to him because we had about 30 different people--Yvonne was one, and I think Paul you were one weren't you? (Paul: Yeah, I have something in there too)--who wrote about what he gave them and we also have like a short bio too. He performed before he became a trained musician, performed as a tap dancer and maybe some other kinds of dance too.
Paul: That's fascinating. Oh, and something unrelated, I can tell you that when I was a young dancer coming to New York in the early 70s, one of the books that really struck me was Don McDonagh's The Rise and Fall and Rise of Modern Dance and one thing that was fascinating about what he did in that book was sort of to map all of the lineages even though the lineages were only 12 years old or something at that point.
Wendy: And there was a chapter on Jack Moore, in the book, your favorite. (Paul: I think so)
Mimi: But also, getting back to the question about language and where postmodern came from I don't know where postmodern came from but there's an analogy with the term "performance art" which I also hate, which is, that was used retroactively. I know when "performance art" started to be used, which is the late 70s. It was (Yvonne: Preceded by body art, wasn't it?) well, and other terms that, yes, were part...body art was one part of it, and there was need for a term that was more all-inclusive I guess by a certain point, by the late 70s, and you started to hear this term, "performance art" and then the first title for Rose Lee Goldberg was not Performance Art, which it was when it was reprinted, it was... I think it was Performance Live Art from 1909 or something like that. (Wendy: Interesting because "live art" has come back as a term) Yes, yes. And actually in a way I prefer that anyway.
Wendy: Well, I conquer with you about the use of "performance art" because I started writing for the Soho News in '75 and our page was called "Concepts In Performance" but the term "performance art" came later, it wasn't that, um...
Sherry Milner: I just wanted to say (Wendy: Want to introduce yourself?) Sherry Milner. I came to looking at Judson and a little later, but, I'd say 69, through politics, and through knowing Living Theater and through being in an anarchist group, and so I started at that work about, maybe '68 through that, through the idea of both ordinary bodies and non-hierarchical structures, so for me, I was looking at, looking for, really (and I knew Cage's work) but looking for a kind of work that really was putting a certain kind of non-hierarchical politics into action, in a way. And we were in a group actually we were in a dance of Nancy Topfs for a year. We were the two non-dancers, I think there was one other, which was fantastic, it was a dance that was again, cast-based, that could generate from anybody in the group could generate a set of movements by doing certain kinds of things, and it was interesting, also, politically, because of course there came a certain point where she would see certain things happening--because we met every weekend, we did perform--and she would say "Oh, I really like that do that in the performance" and for us, the two non-dancers this was outrageous, and so of course, ultimately we confronted that and said "but this is non-hierarchical, but this is not right," and she said "but it's my dance" and so there was that and we tried to kind of-- of course being really obnoxious upstarts and we were really obnoxious when I think of that--
Wendy: Nancy Topf also has a wonderful piece she's written in that Movement Research Performance Journal on Robert Dunn.
Sherry: Oh, I should look at that, because I haven't...but she, so I tried to organize the other dancers, to say wait a minute, this is really based... we have...these are principles that we really uphold. I read Yvonne's manifesto, and I went to everything. And of course the other dancers, who were young, 18, said, we're dancers, we need choreographers, we agree with you but we're not going along. So, it was actually, in both ways very empowering, but also, again, those connections between art and politics are ever worked out. But for me I continue to look at work and then I took Yvonne's class at Cal Arts too, and I remembered doing performances, in that you, in that seminar, as well (Yvonne: We did a lot of jumping on sofas) Yes! I remember that. Sort of like Kristina Talking Pictures actually, it showed up, later, jumping on sofas. But that sense of the connection between, of the relevance. Not just in terms of what people were saying but really people finding other structures in which to organize work, really, at every level thinking about principles, what does it mean to create community? What does it mean to organize people in space, what other kinds of ways can we use to do that organization? And obviously a lot of that comes from Cage as well, but the non-hierarchical approach was extremely important to me.
Wendy: As your talking I'm thinking of the "Flag Show" "The People's Flag Show" because that was a moment where the politics really came to the fore, that was later that was 1970, right? (Yvonne: 1970-1?) Do you want to say something about the "Flag Show"?
Yvonne: Well, it was a very Jingo-istic period in American, in US history, where desecrating the flag was a criminal offense and Steve Radich was a gallerist who had shown the work of Marc...anyone...? (Aileen: Di Suvero?) No...he's (someone: Morell?) Marc Morell, yes. A sculptor, and he draped it with... I didn't see the work. Anyways, John Hendricks, and Michelle Wallace and Faith Ringold organized this "Flag Show" at Judson, where anyone who did anything with the flag could participate and there was a Jasper John's flag, Kate Millet had an installation, a toilet with a flag in the toilet, and I was invited to do something at the opening and a few of us knew Trio A, I taught it and so I got these five-foot flags around our necks and we took off our clothes behind the flag and we did Trio A twice, and I thought of it as a double-barreled protest attack against censorship and misplaced patriotism, I guess. Yeah '71 the Vietnam War was still going on...
Wendy: I have another question, because in all this planning about Judson this fall, one of the questions that has come up, or, almost accusations of like, either Judson was all white, or it wasn't all white and where were the people of color? So, what is your response to that?
Yvonne: I was just about to bring that up. We certainly did not exclude anybody from these workshops, anyone who presented work at these workshops could get on the program, and the programs were organized by a nominated committee of three people. I was on one of them or two of them. We, when was this...'62 the freedom bus rides, voter registration in the South, this was about to happen, I must say for myself I was not very tuned into that, we did not do outreach to bring different ethnicities and people of color into our orbit, we were kind of oblivious, and a lot of the political, my own extra curricular political activity had to do with the Vietnam War, so racial issues didn't surface for me until much later, and feminism was still a ways away, the second wave of feminism, although implicitly what we were doing was a lot of us were involved with a kind of feminism where women lifted men, we were anti-ballet, the ways in which ballet idealized and subjugated the female, bodily and metaphorically. So, yeah. I mean, we certainly did not exclude anyone, for any reason.
Wendy: When you say the women lifted the men, do you feel the contact improvisation came out of Judson?
Yvonne: Well, it came out of Steve. This was Steve's brainchild. And it came out of our residency at Oberlin College as the Grand Union, and he taught the first workshop in contact there.
Wendy: But he was doing... in Grand Union he was doing a lot of falling and partnering and stuff.
Yvonne: Mm, yeah but I guess with Trisha. I don't know, I wasn't involved. I never did contact, so...
Wendy: Actually, it would be great if you would also talk about how Grand Union...how that evolved, because you were working on a piece that was Continuous Project Altered Daily and that sort of became the group that did Grand Union, and when I came to New York in '69 Grand Union was still going strong, and that was really--
Yvonne: No, it didn't get started til '70, '71
Wendy: So in those early 70s I saw that, and that's kind of what led me to Judson, it was like "woah, where did this come from?" it was the most amazing group of people performing, again and again and again. So, how did that evolve? How did Grand Union come about?
Yvonne: Well, this is really post-Judson although all the participants, except for Becky Arnold (Wendy: And Douglas Dunn) and Douglas Dunn, yeah, were active in Judson. I made a piece, yeah, Continuous Project Altered Daily which had these components and an indeterminate temporal structure. We performed it at The Whitney Museum, '71 I guess, and Barbara Dilley, who had a reputation in the Cunningham Company as being a troublemaker she was this restless sensibility, always pushing the limits, like in the...the one time where Merce, you know, there were contradictions between Cage's ideas and what Merce allowed himself to do, and there's this dance called Story where the dancer's could go off and put on different costumes and come back and there was, they had, he gave them permission to make choices, and Barbara took all her clothes off and came on nude, and that was beyond the pale, from what I heard. So Barbara was pushing me, okay, there are moments in Continuous Project where they could improvise and there is documentation I saw for the first time this year in Europe with Steve improvising, doing this beautiful thing with his back, he had this wonderfully supple back, and so Barbara kept, "maybe we can introduce our own work" and so I kept opening up the stable doors and trying to shut them, and so finally there was no turning back, and it became a totally improvisatory work, which began with residues of my work falling away, and finally we realized we couldn't even rehearse with each other we didn't, so we would get these gigs, we did a lot of touring, and Oberlin was one of the venues, residencies, and we would just come into the space with our schmattas and our records and it would begin. I lasted two years, I mean I couldn't do it without being stoned I mean the pressure was too much, but they went on for about, until 1976. They went to Japan and went all kinds of places. One of my favorites stories from that last tour, is David was getting ready to leave, he had had enough, and there he was in Japan, and the rest of the group was on-stage in this theater warming up, this is hearsay of course, but this is the way it was told to me. They warmed up as the audience was coming in. David was sitting in a very disgruntled mood down in the dressing room and there was this full samurai costume in a closet or something, and one of the, it was a very talky group, they had all kinds of riffs about doctors and patients and one of their riffs was about Attila the Hun, I can't tell you anything else about it. So Barbara, and maybe Nancy or Steve doing this Attila the Hun thing. David came up and there was an entrance upstage, and at a precise moment when they were involved in it, he threw open the curtains and said "HI HON! I'M HOME!" in this samurai outfit.
Wendy: I remember seeing that but then David told me it was in Minneapolis but then I saw it in New York, so I think he repeated it, I think it went over so well in Minneapolis or Japan that he repeated it again in New York, because I never forgot him saying "Hi Hon! I'm home!" (Laughter)
Yvonne: But he didn't have the samurai costume!
Wendy: I don't remember the samurai costume, I just remember there was this thread about Attila the Hun, and I thought that he had thought of it that second, so later, like a few months ago when he had told me that he had done it in Minneapolis, I was very disappointed because I realized that he was re-running a bit that worked. But it was hilarious and there were many other really funny things that happened...ongoing arguments between David and Barbara Dilley.
Yvonne: I think one of the things that fascinated the spectators and made them come back over and over was you never knew when the nasty kind of competitiveness would erupt. I had trouble with drawing I would come as a spectator and enter and that didn't go over well. Shit or get off the pot, you know.
Audience Member: Apropos of Grand Union, I once saw some footage, it must have been at a college, and it seemed like the text was excerpts from student, from a fiction class, the students had written love stories and somebody was reading it while the dancers were improvising together...it was such a comedy, you could just imagine these very naive kinds of love stories and the activity like "Hi Hon, I'm home" onstage. Liz Keen brought up the issue of DTW and this, I forget your name but you brought up the politics and the aesthetics and the different kinds of hierarchical ways of making dances and I was thinking about Barbara Rohan's Parades and I was also thinking about DTW which was sort of coincidental with all of your activities, and wondering, was there any relationship between the two, or thinking about it or awareness of it or rejection of or anything?
Wendy: Between...? (Yvonne: Barbara Rohan?)
Audience Member: Yeah, because she was a little bit affiliated with DTW I think
Wendy: She was, very much
Yvonne: Who was the founder of DTW? (Wendy: Jeff Duncan) (Audience Member: And Art Bauman, yeah) Jeff Duncan, right, oh. I wasn't very, I went to some things, I wasn't very aware of them, there seemed to be no connection, Liz could you?
Wendy: I want to answer it first, and then Liz, I think Liz should answer it, 'cause she really was a pivotal person there. Gus Solomons was another pivotal person, Kenneth King, and I was surprised to look on this list which I have, of all the Judson performances that Jeff Duncan actually performed there too. The reason I was surprised was that Jeff, and Jack Moore, who were two of the founders had both danced with Anna Sokolow. That was really the sort of 92nd Street Y contingent that Judson was working against. So it was really very different aesthetics. I mean, I think it was also a collective and it started in Jeff's home, which was on 20th street, but a lot--Phoebe Neville was also someone who'd been at Judson and was at DTW, Nancy Topf. So there were a lot of people who migrated to DT but I felt that there were a lot... I felt that the aesthetics were different because of that foundation of, very much the Dance Theater Workshop very much wanting to embrace the theater part of it. But Liz what do you feel was the connection?
Liz: I think theater is a good, I think that you've hit something very important, because the emotion was important. It was a different approach and it wasn't quite...I think there were also connections to music, that it didn't go quite as far into the abstract sound, as had been going on. It was a melange of people with different interests too, but I think that the theater maybe, acting, emotional thing not being excluded, is an important aspect of it.
Wendy: Okay, Paul wanted to say something.
Paul: I wanted to add to this because Dance Theater Workshop is where I landed right away in 1973 when I came to New York, and it was like, sort of like Movement Research is now, it was a home for young students, and there were all kinds of wonderful teachers there and people like Art Bauman, Jeff Duncan, Judith Scott, Jack Moore, they would say "Oh, Anna Halprin's in town, you have to work with her" and I'd go and work with Anna Halprin, and they completely, Jeff had seen the first showing of contact improvisation the year before. He thought it was fantastic. I did a showing of contact improvisation in the spring of 1974, they were completely open to it, we were working with Caroline Brown and Nancy Topf was around and Laurie Pritchard who's here also, we were scholarship students together. So, I experienced nothing but completely open-minded support for young students and expanding their visions. Oh, and I think Jeff told me, he said, "Paul, I've heard Yvonne Rainer is teaching at School of Visual Arts," and so I went over and I crashed your class, and... (Yvonne: Were you in my class?) Yeah, I crashed your class, and you let me audit. I just walked in, I don't know how I got through security. And I ended up performing for 20 minutes on the first day which was terrifying, but you let me stay. But that, that was because, so anyway, it was very...they didn't have like a one-ideology vision, it was very eclectic. But they were so open and nurturing, and a wonderful experience for me, first arriving.
Wendy: I mean I arrived also, a few years before there, and what I remember is if you were one of the young people doing their series, you had to help with the mailing, and that's how I learned, I learned all of the zip codes of Manhattan by hour after hour, doing the mailings there. Laurie did you want to speak to that?
Laurie: Yeah, well, I was going to say that, Wendy, you taught there... (Wendy: I did, I was a substitute for other people, like Barbara Rohan) But I thought it was arts pragmatism that made DTW the service organization that it was, which was running the mimeograph machine and typing the mailing labels and all that stuff (Wendy: And doing the letraset) because the reason that people joined was not, after a while, aesthetic, but more so that they could do mailing and get a press list and things like that.
Wendy: It was a real cooperative and I've thought about it from time to time, about how DTW has lasted, whereas Judson sort of burned itself out, I mean as a venue. I mean, Movement Research has taken it on, but as a presenting organization, DTW lasted.
Pat Catterson: Pat Catterson. I was going to say, the first time I saw your work Yvonne, was in a concert at Riverside Church that was sponsored by DTW, and Judith Dunn was on the program, and Kathy Posen, and Jamie Cunningham and you.
Yvonne: Where was that?
Pat: It was up at Riverside Church but I'm pretty sure it was sponsored by DTW.
Yvonne: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
Wendy: I think I saw that too. Barbara Moore.
Barbara Moore: I wonder if the reason for it lasting is the change in the funding situation. When Judson started, there was no funding, and you know, it was all... a lot of this enthusiasm and openness, and thinking back, you know, to my own experience at that time, and having people have other jobs, always, and you mentioned Time Life, and you remember the actress Florence Tarlow, and some other people, they were proofreaders at Time Life, and sometimes they were on the night shift, because it was 24 hours a day, and they were getting like $15 an hour, which was just, an amazing salary for that period and and the funding really didn't take off until later, and when you talk about DTW having lasted, they were formed at a time when the funding was something you could work with, and plan about.
Wendy: Yeah, I think the NEA started in '64, I think, so
Barbara: Well, New York had it first and the NEA was modeled on New York, I believe, New York under Rockefeller, the State Council, whatever. But it wasn't something that was an accepted continuity, until a few years later. (Yvonne: Or expected.) What? (Yvonne: Or expected) Yes, exactly, and actually I know in my experience, you know, sometimes in later years, as it got into the 70s, people would say, "Well I want to do this piece but I can't do it unless I get the funding" and Judson was totally...you know that was irrelevant, almost. You did it, because you really had to, there was a passion about it, and an obsession with doing it, whatever it was.
Yvonne: And it was free, we didn't pay rent.
Barbara: And the theater was, that's right to attend it was free.
Yvonne: And they gave us the gym for workshops, and all we had to do was raise money for postage. Steve designed the first flyer, and folded it up, scotch tape, and postage stamp, which then was what, probably... nine cents.
Wendy: You know, we only have a few minutes left and I do want to get to the issue of what is the legacy of Judson? So, you know, because we've talked about what actually happened there and things happened after, but for some of the young people I'm looking right at Arthur Aviles, and you know, Paul Langland and others of you... what do you guys feel we've received, we've been handed down from these wonderful artists? (Silence) I'm asking you specifically, and then yeah, Patricia Hausbauer too.
Arthur Aviles: I was lucky to have been introduced to Aileen when I went to Bard College in 1981. You know, Puerto Rican kid from the ghetto, going to the boonies of New York, didn't know what it is that I wanted to do, and I found dance there and Aileen helped me to understand that walking was dancing and that gave me a connection to something that was not possible in the culture that I came from, in the way that it was, and you know, I think maybe that's it. That's what she's given me, and I thank you so much for that.
Aileen: Thank you, Arthur.
Patricia Hoffbauer: Well, you know I came from Brazil in 1980, and I remember seeing Yvonne on the cover...maybe not the cover... maybe like the 10th page of Dance Magazine (laughter) 1978 (Yvonne: I was on the cover once! Maybe it wasn't the cover...) but when I came here I had total modern dance training, I went to NYU, but I think we were already, by then, we had all been, somehow, exposed to some ideas (Yvonne: subjected) yeah subjected, subjugated, but at the same time I think these dance departments, perhaps not Bard, but NYU resisted with everything they had to allow any kind of more postmodern ideas to come in, so we had Graham until '84, 83' so we looked for those things after, when we graduated, my class. But I think that everything was in the air, there was change, Judson... I don't know when Movement Research started doing...no...Monday nights, you know there was a whole moment that things start to cohere for me, but I think yes, this idea of amplifying, not this thing that I feel poor Yvonne is cursed with, the "No Manifesto" that she has said "no" to everything. (Someone: If you hadn't mentioned it!) (Yvonne: yeah yeah yeah, you had to mention it) Somebody mentioned it before (Yvonne: I didn't!) but so yes, I think it was amplified in many ways, and I feel me and Emily [Coates] and Pat [Catterson] honored to be part of The Reindeers.
Wendy: Whom you can see this coming weekend. Deborah Lohs, back there. Another young choreographer.
Deborah Lohs: I read Terpsichore in Sneakers in college, and it blew my little bun off. I came in, and it was all pulled back, and in my pointe shoes, and it blew my mind. It blew my mind, so the first piece I ever choreographed in college was so influenced by Lucinda Childs, it was just dancers running in and out of wings and like, it was permission to depart. From what I had known. That's what this has given me a permission to depart. So thank you.
Wendy: Yeah. Good way of putting it. Anyone else about the legacy? Okay Paul, and then Pat. It's great to have all you choreographers in the audience:
Paul: I think one thing that is really powerful about the legacy of Judson is that it blew open the doors of dance to integrate it with other huge movements in art and I came from visual arts so when I first saw the Judson Dancers, I wasn't interested in dance. But I immediately got, that all the Judson work was not mysterious to me. So one of the legacies is and why the world is so huge now in dance, was it blew off the doors, it brought visual arts people to dance, it brought theater people to dance, it brought adventurous musicians to dance and it basically said dance is soaked in all these other fields, so now dance can be at MoMA and a commercial venue, and those generative postmodern ideas are evident in all those different mediums and in that sense it was just an over-the-top success, explosion of not only wonderful new ideas but the resulting popularity of those ideas and actually greater access to the art world at large, to the world of dance, in my opinion. (Wendy: Thank you)
Wendy: Wait, give it to Pat, sorry, across to Pat Catterson.
Pat: I was already making dances in college before I moved to New York, but I had seen Yvonne's picture on the cover of Dance Magazine, and I put it on my wall. I didn't really know anything about her but it was so unlike anything else I had seen on the cover of Dance Magazine, and it was just so filled with movement, I loved that picture. And, I studied with Judith Scott at Northwestern, and she told us about Happenings, and she kind of did a Happening, so you know, whatever there was to find out, I tried to find out then. So I was making dances then, but as I said I saw this concert at Riverside Church, was just my second week in New York, and then I saw the Billy Rose show, and I didn't really know what to do with any of it and it wasn't all written about like it is now, so it wasn't all canonized and...(Yvonne: It was panned that Billy Rose show, he was so incensed, Clive Barnes, he spent two Sunday Arts and Leisure columns putting it down.) Right, and so, I just, I didn't know what to do with it but I think what happened for me, and then I got to meet you and was doing my first concert at Judson, for me it's what Patty said, it was about enlarging rather than narrowing, and it made room for who can dance and what can be in something called "choreography" and it allowed me to be a choreographer and do my first concert without having danced in a major dance company, I could just say I'm doing it and did it. So, for me, it made room for me. I felt there's room for me, and also I think I was really inspired like someone like you or Viola, even, very strong independent women artists, really inspired me.
Wendy: Thank you. Levi. Oh, but don't you have something to say, Levi?
Abigail Levine: A similar sentiment, into a more general category, but I was up at Beacon, I saw Yvonne's show, and the feeling of sort of what crystallized about what this piece of history has done for me is I watched this show and rather than thinking about dance I was thinking about life, and there was, I was seeing, you know, women who were doing things rather than this technique, this particular sliver of things that was a world apart, and I think particularly in terms of work, and so this idea that it was not professionalized, during the Judson days, is really interesting to me, and sort of as my generation is looking to this legacy but with a real bent on professionalization, and how those can sit together, and whether we're kind of fighting, I mean maybe it's necessary but maybe we're fighting against a certain current by sort of insisting on sort of our own professionalism as we look, as we are inspired by all the connections that Judson made to politics, to different kinds of bodies, to different ways of building community.
Wendy: Thank you.
Audience Member: I'm not coming from a dance background at all, I actually come from an art background, and didn't really know anything about postmodern dance, you know I had heard about it through the art world but never seen anything. And, very early on, I was in a residency in Japan and I was making a film on a girls basketball team and it was about movement, and there was this raised proscenium in the gymnasium and it was really at that time that I dove into the history, and just reading Sally's Book, and the Manifesto that no one wants to talk about, it really gave me permission to work with a medium and movement that I never expected, and I mean, all of you have really, you've changed history and inspired so many people. I wouldn't have been able to make that work or the work after that or the work after that if not for the work that you all did, so thank you.
Wendy: Ok, Emily, and this will be the last one.
Emily Coates: I'm Emily Coates. It's a quick question for Aileen and for Yvonne, about this question of legacy, I would love to hear you both talk about potential misinterpretations of the legacy that you see spreading out into the world.
Aileen: First, I worry whether there is a legacy at all, you know. I think that one thing that happened out of Judson was to prove that dancing wasn't an elitist activity, for the chosen few, because you know they took, I was part of it, Yvonne, we were an odd, crazy bunch of people, but there was an urgency there, and that's what... I don't see everything... I don't see nearly as much as I should see, I'm ashamed to say I don't know as much about Movement Research as I could, and I should know, and I'm going to change that. But when I go to the theater, often I either end up sick to my stomach, or wanting to cry, because I can't find the dancing in it, I can't find the need to move. We had no...we made things that were crappy, we made stuff that didn't work, it doesn't matter, but there was an urgency to speak, something inside that we had to do. I can't find that. What I look at is at best like a run-on sentence that I can't see the beginning or the middle or the end to, that's one way I look at it, and the other way it's filled with some kind of acrobatic tricks, as if dancing wasn't a very powerful and important thing. Dancing, taking action is about as powerful as I know about, you don't need to gussy it up. And I don't think people realize how powerful it is, that when a human being who has a whole history and a whole life and a smell and has eaten dinner and maybe has loved somebody or something, gets up and moves, that's something else. That can change the world when that happens. And people don't know that now. They don't know it, now. So, I don't know what the legacy is.
Yvonne: Well, there's always a danger before this whole series, that there was...Judson was mythologized and there were all kinds of misconceptions, now there's a danger of it being fetishized, and yeah, people, young dancers ask me when I talk, "where can we go? you broke all the rules and now what can we do?" I think dance always is in sort of in a rut that has to be broken out of. I mean the young dancer wants to explore this body all over again, reinvent the wheel, it's a constant reinventing, and not knowing, because there are a lot of records now, in the 60s there was no video, right? So who did 16mm documentations of our work, so a lot has been lost, which is counts for the mythologization, right? So now, there is all this available material, the Library of Performing Arts, and all kinds of archives, but the young dancer/choreographer wants to explore the limits of what a particular body can do. That's only one way into dance, right? And I think it is a very dangerous route that has to constantly be questioned and subverted and overcome and transcended and I mean you have to struggle with this wheel that maintains its shape from one generation to the other. So that's all I can say, and also repeat what has been said over and over to quote or misquote or paraphrase John Cage, "there is nothing new under the sun there are only new ways of organizing it" so exploring one's own body is one of those ways. But I think it must be thought of as only one possibility, one component of a total picture of what the body in voice and musculature can do. So when you think of it that way it remains an open field and not just my beautiful body, I can get my leg up to here, or whatever. I mean I still. I use the beautiful body with the leg up to here, my ex-ballerina here, but there's something else she does in this program while doing that.
Wendy: I want to say a different point of view from Aileen's point of view, because I see a lot of dance. Like almost every night. And I do see incredible things happening. And just looking at this audience, I saw Deborah Lohs in a Doug Elkins performance at the pillow that was fantastic, I saw Rebecca in a Roseanne Spradlin performance that had incredible urgency and bravery... I see things all the time that make me proud of (Yvonne: hopeful?) ...yeah, it's not even about hope, it's about the present, it's not what I think could happen it's what's already happening and I do think it's a very exciting time. (Fades out)
Aileen Passloff, Judson Dance Theater, Yvonne Rainer