The Pioneers of Postmodern Dance, 60 Years Later

Yvonne Rainer

“On a mid-December morning at her home studio, which is perched on a wooded hill near Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, Calif., the 98-year-old dance artist Anna Halprin was leading a movement class. ‘Think about positive and negative space,’ she said, observing from a director’s chair as her 12 students — a retired preschool teacher, a fine-linens importer — assumed a range of positions at once ordinary and not. One woman began to crawl through the parted legs of another, as if a child at recess, while a third communed with the wall, splaying her limbs against its rust-colored surface. Warmed up, the class then made its way to the adjacent 1,800-square-foot redwood deck that Halprin’s late husband, the landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, built in 1952. Since its construction, artistic heirs of Halprin, including Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown and Meredith Monk, have visited the deck at one time or another to practice and move with her. An esteemed teacher and performer, Halprin is known for her use of scores, or task-based improvisations, as well as for making dances inspired by nature. Once outside, a pair of students inspected some overhead branches and then offered full-body impressions of leaves rustling in the wind. It’s difficult to see the beginning of things, and this is especially true of artistic movements, which tend to bleed together at their edges. And yet Halprin’s deck is considered one of several birthplaces of what would come to be called postmodern dance — an experimental school that posed formal questions about just what dance could be — which otherwise originated in New York in the early 1960s. Its 20 or so most active and influential practitioners were mostly trained dancers working on the fringes of the dance-world establishment and their visual artist peers, all of whom recognized that one of the things dance could be was a type of conceptual or performance art, other then-burgeoning and medium-blurring movements that regarded the three-dimensional body as a Duchampian ready-made. Together, this group retooled the common dance vocabulary and redefined who might be seen as a dancer, which inevitably had implications beyond the realm of composition, upending assumptions about beauty and bodies at a time not unlike our own. …”
NY Times
W – Postmodern dance
The Mind Is a Muscle: Postmodern Dance and Intellectual History
Brooklyn Rail
amazon: Radical Bodies

Anna Halprin, The Branch, the Halprins’ dance deck, Kentfield, California, c. 1957: A. A. Leath, Anna Halprin, and Simone Forti.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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