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Danspace Premieres New Work by Yvonne Rainer

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Photo: Assisted Living: Good Sports 2 (2011) by Mathieu Malouf.

Renowned dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker, Yvonne Rainera seminal member of the highly influential avant-garde Judson Dance Theater of the 1960s, and improvisational dance collective Grand Union of the 1970s, brings three works to Danspace Project this week.  Performances will include a reconstruction of a Judson-era work, We Shall Run, (1963) and the premiere of her latest work, Assisted Living: Do You Have Any Money?

Trained as a dancer in New York at the Martha Graham Dance School and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Rainer began to choreograph her own work in 1960. Much like other choreographers of her era, she sought to blur the line separating dancers from non-dancers. Her performances were based on a series of mundane tasks and day-to-day gestures like walking, running, lifting, etc. Her work, and time at Judson, began the birth of a movement that proved to be a vital force in modern dance in the following decades.

We Shall Run features 12 dancers—students from  Sarah Lawrence College and untrained performers running for 7 minutes, in differing patterns, to Tuba Miram from Berlioz’s “Requiem.”

Assisted Living: Do You Have Any Money?  follows Rainer’s “customary penchant for radical juxtaposition.” Blending movement and speech stemming from a number of different sources, including Rainer’s own “choreographic imagination and her collaborative process with her dancers.” Five dancers deliver long monologues comprised of quotes from authors as diverse as John Meynard Keynes, Emma Goldman, Pierre Proudhon, Adam Gopnik, and Herbert J. Gans, all while performing intricate steps.

The program notes Rainer has taken the risky route of juxtaposing “vaudevillian pratfalls with solemn socio-economic analyses.” Says Rainer: “The dire times in which we live seem to demand such an approach.”

It will certainly be interesting to see if the times have changed in 50 years.

The “Raindears”, includes: Pat Catterson, Emily Coates, Patricia Hoffbauer, Emmanuélle Phuon, and Keith Sabado.

Yvonne Rainer and Group / Danspace Project / January 24 – 26 / 8pm / $18


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  1. small correction, all of the Sarah Lawrence students are part of the dance program, many of which are graduate students, all of them are trained performers.

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