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Deborah Hay, Solo

Solo by Deborah Hay, performed on October 13th and 23rd 1966, is not really a solo but rather a choreographic work for 16 dancers, 8 tele-guided platforms and their operators. However, each dancer seems to follow a solitary path that only episodically crosses that of the others, when he/she is not alone on a platform.

 At the origin of this performance is a trip to Japan, made during a tour with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Impressed by Noh theatre, Deborah Hay wished to integrate into her work the slowness, simplicity and suspension specific to the Japanese tradition. The dancer, who has regularly collaborated with Steve Paxton, Robert Rauschenberg and her husband Alex Hay, offers here one of the most minimalist performances of 9 Evenings. However, its minimalism does not lack humour. At the edge of the track, a conductor directs the operators responsible for controlling the platforms on which the dancers rise up or sink down. Seated beneath giant antennas, these operators assume the appearance of impassive typists. As for the dancers, they seem to form a cloud of atoms with an uncertain trajectory. Their economy of movement reaches its climax when it is the platforms that move them across the stage, dignified as Apollos or stiff as planks. 

Hay, Deborah

Deborah Hay was born in Brooklyn. She trained in the 1960s with Merce Cunningham and Mia Slavenska. In 1964, Hay danced with the Cunningham Dance Company during a 6-month tour through Europe and Asia. She was also sharing with her Judson colleagues the artificial distinction between trained and untrained performers. She focused on large-scale dance projects involving untrained dancers, fragmented and choreographed music accompaniment, and the execution of ordinary movement patterns performed under stressful conditions.


 In 1970 she left New York to live in a community in northern Vermont. Soon, she distanced herself from the performing arena, producing Ten Circle Dances, performed on 10 consecutive nights within a single community and no audience whatsoever. Thus began a long period of reflection about how dance is transmitted and presented. Her first book, Moving Through the Universe in Bare Feet (Swallow Press, 1975), is an early example of her distinctive memory/concept mode of choreographic record, and emphasizes the narratives underlining the process of her dance-making, rather than the technical specifications or notations of their form.

 In 1976 Hay left Vermont and moved to Austin, Texas. Her attention focused on a set of practices ("playing awake") that engaged the performer on several levels of consciousness at once. While developing her concepts she instituted a yearly four-month group workshop that culminated in large group public performances and from these group pieces she distilled her solo dances. Her second book, Lamb at the Altar: The Story of a Dance (Duke University Press, 1994), documents the unique creative process that defined these works.


 In the late 1990’s Deborah Hay focused almost exclusively on rarefied and enigmatic solo dances based on her new experimental choreographic method, performing them around the world and passing them on to noted performers in the US, Europe, and Australia. Also, My Body, The Buddhist, her third book, was published. It is an introspective series of reflections on the major lessons of life that she has learned from her body while dancing. 


 In 2002 Hay made a decision to apply what she had learned from 30 years of working with mostly untrained dancers to choreographing dances for experienced dancer/choreographers. In 2004 she received a NYC Bessie award for her quartet The Match. In 2006 she choreographed O, O for 5 New York City choreographer/dancers and then for 7 French dancers of comparable experience. 

 After a two year research collaboration with Motion Bank, a project of the Forsythe Company directed by Scott delaHunta, an online interactive website dedicated to Hay's choreographic aesthetics was launched in June 2013. One outcome of that collaboration was Hay's first museum installation, Perception Unfolds: Looking at Deborah Hay's Dance.


 May 5, 2015 France's Minister of Culture and Communication awarded Hay the title of Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres.


Source : Déborah Hay’s website


More information:

http://www.deborahhay.com/ 

Solo

Artistic direction / Conception : Deborah Hay

Interpretation : Lucinda Childs, William Davis, Suzanne de Maria, Lette Eisenhauer, Walter Gelb, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Margaret Hecht, Ed Iverson, Julie Judd, Olga Klüver, Vernon Lobb, Steve Paxton, Joe Schlichter, Carol Summers

Lights : Jennifer Tipton, Beverly Emmons (assistant)

Settings : Larry Heilos

Technical direction : Larry Helios, Witt Wittnebert

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

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