Yvonne Rainer

Yvonne Rainer in the “Bach” section of Terrain (1963), Yvonne Rainer. Judson Memorial Church, New York, 1963.

Yvonne Rainer (born November 24, 1934) is an American dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker, whose work in these disciplines is regarded as challenging and experimental. Her work is sometimes classified as minimalist art. Rainer currently lives and works in New York. … In early summer of 1960 the three of them rented a New York studio and worked on movement improvisations. In August of that year Rainer traveled with Forti to Marin County, CA to take Halprin’s summer workshop, which was very important, in addition to Forti’s influence, to Rainer’s early solo dance work. In the fall of 1960 both Forti and Rainer attended the choreography workshop that musician-composer Robert Dunn began to conduct in the Cunningham studio based on the theories of John Cage. The other members of this course were Steve Paxton, Ruth Emerson, Paulus Berenson, and Marni Mahaffey. It was here that Rainer created and performed her earliest dances. In 1962, at the age of 27, Rainer, Steve Paxton, and Ruth Emerson approached the Reverend Al Carmines at the Judson Memorial Church to ask if they could begin performing there. The Church was already known for the Judson Poets’ Theater and Judson Art Gallery, which had been showing the work of Claes Oldenburg, Allan Kaprow, Robert Whitman, Jim Dine, and Tom Wesselmann. It now became a focal point for vanguard dance activity and concerts of dance. Rainer is noted for an approach to dance that treats ‘the body more as the source of an infinite variety of movements’ than as the purveyor of plot or drama. … In her early dances, Rainer focused on sounds and movements and often juxtaposed the two in arbitrary combinations. Inspired by the chance procedures favored by Cage and Cunningham, Rainer’s choreography was a combination of classical dance steps contrasted with pedestrian movement. She used a great deal of repetition and employed spoken language and oral noises (including squeaks, and shrieks, etc.) within the body of her dances. Repetition and sound were employed in her first choreographed piece, Three Satie Spoons (1961), a solo in three parts performed by Rainer to the accompaniment of Eric Satie‘s Trois Gymnopedies. … Reading feminist writing and theory allowed Rainer to examine her own experience as a woman, and she was able to think of herself as a participant in culture and society. Little did Rainer realize that her prior choreography was a direct challenge of the ‘traditional’ dance and ultimately feminist in nature. …”
Interview – Dance Mom: Yvonne Rainer
Yvonne Rainer: Dances and Films (Video/Audio)
NY Times – Yvonne Rainer Prepares Her Newest Dance for New York
UbuWeb – Yvonne Rainer (Video)

Yvonne Rainer reads from her journal. Notebook, Yvonne Rainer, 1981–83. Ink on paper.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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