Elaine Summers

1960s. Courtesy the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Lillian Elaine Summers (February 20, 1925 – December 27, 2014) was an American choreographer, experimental filmmaker, and intermedia pioneer. She was a founding member of the original workshop-group that would form the Judson Dance Theater and she significantly contributed to the interaction of film and dance, as well as the expansion of dance into other related disciplines, such as visual art, film, and theater. She fostered the expansion of performing dance in new, often outdoor locations. Her movement approach Kinetic Awareness offers a comprehensive perspective on human movement and dance. She died at Bellevue Hospital, New York, on the morning of December 27, 2014, after a fall at her home. … In 1951 Elaine Summers came to New York and attended classes at the Juilliard School of Dance, together with Paul Taylor and Carolyn Brown. She also studied with Louis Horst, Merce Cunningham, Daniel Nagrin, Don Redlich, Mary Anthony, Charlotte Selver and Carola Speads, (both students of German body-reeducation pioneer Elsa Gindler), Jean Erdman, Janet Collins, and at the Martha Graham School. In 1962 Summers joined the composition class taught by Robert Ellis Dunn at the Merce Cunningham Studio in its second term, and subsequently became part of the workshop-group that would later be referred to as the Judson Dance Theater, together with Edward Bhartonne, Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Ruth Emerson, Fred Herko, Sally Gross, Deborah Hay, David Gordon, John Herbert McDowell, Gretchen MacLane, Robert Morris, Aileen Passloff, Steve Paxton, Rudy Perez, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, and Valda Setterfield. At Judson, Summers shared in the ongoing experiments with chance methods and pedestrian, everyday movements as part of the interest in expanding the then accepted methods of creating and performing dances. However, she also embraced the more theatrical part of the collective (as did Aileen Passloff, John Herbert McDowell and others). Summers expanded dance into other disciplines, experimental film, visual art, and body work. …”
Elaine Summers Dance (Video)
NY Times: Elaine Summers, Who Meshed Dance and Film, Dies at 89

Photo and collage by Elaine Summers (1969)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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