Judson Dance Theater

Peter Moore’s photograph of unidentified performers in Joan Baker’s _Ritual_ (detail), 1963. Performed in _Concert of Dance #13_, Judson Memorial Church, November 20, 1963. © Barbara Moore/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Concert of Dance #13. 1963

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Peter Moore’s photograph of unidentified performers in Joan Baker’s Ritual (detail), 1963. Performed in Concert of Dance #13, Judson Memorial Church, November 20, 1963. © Barbara Moore/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

THOMAS J. LAX: Each of Judson’s Concerts had a different feeling and structure. For Concert #13, sculptor Charles Ross filled the sanctuary with two large structures for the dancers to respond to.

YVONNE RAINER: One was a kind of trapezoidal contraption made of aluminum pipes and the other was a wooden platform about eight, nine feet above the ground.

THOMAS J. LAX: Yvonne Rainer has never forgotten a piece by Alex Hay called Prairie:

YVONNE RAINER: He tied a couple of pillows with ropes around his waist. He clambered up to the top of the trapezoid. And it was as though he would try to go to sleep on the top bar with these pillows, and he would fall down and get suspended on the ropes. He'd clamber back up and it went on like that. It was hilarious.

THOMAS J. LAX: Carla Blank’s piece Turnover also used the trapezoidal structure:

YVONNE RAINER: It was like eight women. Half of us would start lifting one of the bars from the ground and the others on the other side would be pulling it over. And we, who had started the lift, would get lifted up and suspended there until it was rolled around the room. I mean, it's a very unwieldy kind of thing.

You know, what’s this—1963? So organized feminism was quite a way off. It felt very dangerous and unusual for a group of that many women to be collaborating on this very heavy risky enterprise. That was a memorable piece.

THOMAS J. LAX: There were also sections during the concert where dancers were free to play and improvise. Towards the end of the evening, Charles Ross and Felix Aeppli assembled a towering mountain of chairs. Carolee Schneemann remembers its impact:

CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN: Chuck Ross, the sculptor, completely reconfigured our intentions. How are we going to move around a thousand pounds of chairs with the Judson Arena itself completely changed. And it was a welcome challenge.

Peter Moore’s photograph of unidentified performers in Joan Baker’s Ritual (detail), 1963. Performed in Concert of Dance #13, Judson Memorial Church, November 20, 1963. © Barbara Moore/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
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