Yvonne Rainer – Decade of Radical Experimentation

1960s: Days of Rage

“As someone cursed with the wayward gait of a drunk learning to ice-skate, I’m prone to thinking of dancers as a special, slightly frightening breed of magical creature, like the earthly descendants of certain birds. How, then, to make sense of Yvonne Rainer’s ‘Dance Works’, which sends me into this familiar state of baffled awe but depends on something other than exquisite technique? (It even permits a certain carefully rendered clumsiness.) Bruce Nauman’s contemporaneous and uncanny trapeze act, Walking in an Exaggerated Manner around the Perimeter of a Square (1967–68), is a much more useful guide here than the heart-fluttering theatrics of Swan Lake. But maybe bewilderment is the desired response. This sprawling retrospective captured over a decade of radical experimentation stretching from 1961 to 1972, in which Rainer found the contours of her own enigmatic and slyly contorted form of choreography. In an inspired move, curator Catherine Wood…

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