The second and third installments of MoMA’s new Performance Exhibition Series consist of live performances dedicated to early choreographic works by Simone Forti (American, b. Italy 1935) and Yvonne Rainer (American, b. 1934)—two key figures of the 1960s minimalist dance movement who defined a new language of physical movement.
Both artists have been deeply influenced by Anna Halprin’s revolutionary technique of improvisation, which freed the dancer’s body from the rigid fragmentation and artificiality of choreographed movement. The choreographic works, performed in the Museum’s galleries, were conceived in the context of the legendary Judson Dance Theatre in New York in the 1960s. They favor the pedestrian over the virtuosic, the everyday over the dramatic, and welcome chance as a creative factor.
Simone Forti’s dance constructions of 1961 are based on improvisation and chance. In Huddle, dancers gather in a tightly packed group, then take turns climbing over the mass, forming a living sculpture that moves through the gallery. Platforms is a dance construction and duet in which performers lie under wooden platforms and communicate by whistling. In Accompaniment for La Monte’s “2 sounds” and La Monte’s “2 sounds,” a twelve-minute recording by Minimalist composer La Monte Young plays as a dancer stands in a large loop of rope suspended from the ceiling; a second person turns the dancer around and around until the rope is completely wound up, and then releases. The piece ends when the recording stops.
The Performance Exhibition Series is organized by Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator, and Jenny Schlenzka, Assistant Curator for Performance, Department of Media and Performance Art.