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Presented on October 15th and 21st 1966, Carriage Discreteness is a choreographic performance by Yvonne Rainer, who juxtaposes a variety of elements offered to the public for interpretation: displacement of objects and people on the stage, gravitation of mobiles at heights, a conversation about a film, and screen projections.
This ambitious performance combines the growing interest of the dancer Yvonne Rainer for the cinema and the research carried out by the Judson Dance Theater into everyday gestures. Two planes appear to oppose one another in a complex grid of correspondences and meanings. A profane plane: that of the stage where a group of dancers displace slabs, beams and cubes designed by Carl Andre, just like workers or removal men. As background sounds, the conversation of a man and a woman about a film by Bertolucci. And a heavenly plane: that of objects circulating under the vaulted ceiling of the Arsenal, a rod and a sphere, just like satellites or abstract divinities. Among them, Steve Paxton, an acrobatic angel thrust from the balcony, sweeps through space on a swing until he gradually comes to a standstill above the stage. A reference to circus that we find in the extract from a film by W.C. Fields, followed by a sequence taken from a melodrama with James Cagney.
After spending her childhood and adolescence in San Francisco, Yvonne Rainer moved to New York in 1956. Between 1959 and 1960, she studied dance at the Martha Graham School, while learning ballet at Ballet Arts. In the early 1960s, she participated in Ann Halprin’s workshops and studiously attended classes by Merce Cunningham, where she met a number of her future collaborators. In 1962, she became a founding member of the Judson Dance Theatre. Much like other choreographers of her era, Rainer sought to blur the stark line separating dancers from non-dancers. Inspired by John Cage’s indeterminacy notions, she created her performances according to a series of generic tasks that integrated day-to-day gestures into a dance vocabulary (walking, running, lifting, etc.). Rainer created many of the best-known works produced by the Judson, including We Shall Run (1963), Terrain (1963) and Part of a Sextet (1964).
While creating At My Body’s House (1963), she asked engineers Billy Klüver and Harold Hodges to modify miniature radio transmitters to amplify the sounds of her breathing. In 1966, she premiered Trio A, the first section of her work The Mind is a Muscle. This sequence prohibits the dancers from looking at the audience while performing an uninterrupted series of complex movements. Trio A later became an independent work and was performed by Rainer and a number of other artists. Although she had integrated projected images into her performance environments since the mid 1960s, Rainer wrote and directed her first medium length film, Lives of Performers, in 1972.
In 1975, she began to focus primarily on making medium and full-length films, in which she reinvested narrative codes. Her films then took a distinctly feminist turn, exploring such themes as terrorism (Journeys from Berlin/1971, 1980), social exclusion (Privilege, 1990) and illness (MURDER and murder, 1996). Between 2000 and 2006, she returned to choreography and created two new works: After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (2000), a group performance commissioned by the Baryshnikov Dance Foundation, and AG Indexical, With a Little Help From H.M. (2006). Rainer taught in the Whitney Independent Program from 1974 onward, and since 2005 she has been emeritus professor at the University of California, Irvine (Irvine, California, U.S.).
Source : Website Fondation Langlois, Vincent Bonin © 2006 FDL
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Choreography : Yvonne Rainer
9 Evenings : Theatre & Engineering
We owe 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering, a series of performances presented in the large building of the Arsenal of the 69th Regiment of New York, in October 1966, to the complicity between the visual artist Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver, an engineer with the telephone company Bell. The concept was simple: allow a dozen artists to achieve the performance of their dreams thanks to the technology of the Bell laboratories.
Born from the experimentations of the members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the Judson Dance Theatre, the 9 Evenings mark a decisive step in the changing relationship between art and technology. Evening after evening, projectors, video cameras, transistors, amplifiers, electrodes and oscilloscopes entered the stage at the service of ambitious, futuristic, iconoclastic or poetic visions – all filmed in black and white and in colour. When these films were rediscovered in 1995, Billy Klüver decided, in partnership with Julie Martin and the director Barbro Schultz Lundestam, to produce a series of documentaries reconstructing what had taken place on the stage and during the preparation of the performances. The original material was thus completed by interviews with the protagonists of each performance (artists and engineers) and a few famous guests. The 9 Evenings would thereby be restored to their place in the history of art.
Source : Sylvain Maestreggi