Before moving to New York in 1959, choreographer Simone Forti spent four heady, formative years in San Francisco. There, she trained with the postmodern dance pioneer Anna Halprin, who rejected the stylistic constraints of ballet and modern dance. On Halprin’s outdoor dance deck in wooded Marin County, Forti explored improvisation, her motions guided by a keen alertness to the body’s anatomy. She also organized open-work sessions with her then husband, the Minimalist artist Robert Morris, gathering artists for communal, multidisciplinary explorations of movement, objects, sound, and light.
At the end of the decade, Forti and Morris moved east. In New York, she began developing the pieces she eventually called Dance Constructions: dances based around ordinary movement, chance, and simple objects like rope and plywood boards. First performed in 1960 at the Reuben Gallery in Soho, and then in Yoko Ono’s loft the following year, they marked “a watershed moment when the relationship between bodies and objects, movement and sculpture, was being fundamentally rethought,” says Stuart Comer, Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art. Dancers balanced on seesaws, embraced in a huddle of bodies, and stood still in hanging loops of rope. They needed only to abide Forti’s “rule games” but were otherwise free to improvise gestures as they negotiated the object before them. Per Forti’s principles, these gestures were “pedestrian,” lacking the arch stylization and technical finesse of traditional dance forms. In doing so, as Morris later noted, these pieces “attacked the notion of dance as a format that required the trained body of the dancer.”
Over the past half-century, Forti’s seven Dance Constructions have been performed by dancers around the world.
Source: website of the MoMa museum / New York
SIMONE FORTI is a dancer, choreographer, artist and writer based in Los Angeles. She started dancing in 1955 with improvisational dance pioneer Anna Halprin. In 1959 she moved to New York, where she studied composition, particularly John Cage’s work, in the Merce Cunningham Studio with musicologist Robert Dunn and familiarised herself with random practice. She met Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Yvonne Rainer and Steve Paxton and actively collaborated to initial happenings, mainly with Robert Whitman, Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg and Allan Kaprow while conceiving her first minimalist conceptual dance/constructions. In 1961 she presented her Dance Constructions, which influenced the emergence of the Judson Dance Theatre, which revolutionised dance in New York in the 1960s and 1970s. Throughout her prolific career Forti took an interest in the study of the movements of animals and the dynamics of circling, as well as in the natural, geographical or historical ‘portraits’ of specific venues that she created with the group Forti & Troupe that she founded in 1986. She collaborated with musicians/composers such as Charlemagne Palestine and Peter Van Riper. Since the early 1980s, Forti has been performing News Animations, a blend of movements and spoken words referring to world news. She received many awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005 and the Yoko Ono Lennon Award for Courage for the Arts in 2011. Today Forti continues teaching and performing worldwide while inventing original devices to explore movement. Her work has been featured at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the MoMa in New York, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and the Louvre Museum in Paris among others.
Centre national de la danse, Réalisation
Since 2001, the National Center for Dance (CND) has been making recordings of its shows and educational programming and has created resources from these filmed performances (interviews, danced conferences, meetings with artists, demonstrations, major lessons, symposia specialized, thematic arrangements, etc.).
Dance Construction - Slant Board
Artistic direction / Conception
Joshua Boyle, Stéphanie Verin, Violetta Salvatierra
Production / Coproduction of the video work
Enregistré au CND le 29 juin 2015 dans le cadre de Camping 2015