This concept of Work or Task-like as a performance quality is explored in Yvonne Rainers essay A quasi survey of some “minimalist” tendencies… 

some excerpts;

“in the early days of Judson Dance Theatre someone wrote an article and asked “Why are they so intent on being themselves?”…But where the question applies, it might be answered on two levels: 1) The artifice of performance has been reevaluated in that action,or what one does, is more interesting and important than the exhibition of character and attitude, and the action can best be focused on through the submerging of personality; so ideally one is not even oneself, one is a neutral “doer.” ”

Talking about notions around “movement-as-task or movement-as-object” Rainer states how the material in Trio A “no one part of the series is made any more important than any other… a great variety of movement shapes occur, but they are of equal weight and equally emphasised.” The bodies are anchored in “actual time”.

I have really found a lot of help and understanding of my taste and understanding for using performance within my own work from this essay and the Afterall single works book The mind is a Muscle.  The way i find movement is often from quoting/references to other works or found movements. The  use of work-like aproaches to making a performance allow me to put a series of different quotations together and see how it is read. Whether there needs a part of my own voice (in movement development) to create a more harmonious line is the second stage, the quotes become a collection to ‘curate’ and re structure to create some sort of question that is the performance.

Later on in the essay rainer discusses repetition as a means to create objectlike/objectify movement and the bodies. With the work i’m currently developing A boy stands in for a Rock or vice versa I wonder whether this may be a technique to test against the intensely slow degrading sculptural images I present. How would the two forms collide? a struggling collapsing body to a constant metronome-like body as a register.


Over the whole 5 weeks, this performance was one I was most anticipating and extremely happy I was able to experience. Having missed Maria Hassabis presentation at Impulsetanz I was very happy to find it being shown in New York. Maria Hassabi makes performances for both dance and visual arts contexts, recently having a solo show at MOMA called Plastic. So it was very interesting to see how her works inhabit a performance space like The Kitchen.

It is hard to describe the work other than that of slow transitions between poses. But I will try to scan through my experience of the work from my notes.

Enter space, medium light, 4 performers on floor, centre, seating banks around, lush red carpet, clashing patterns on clothing, high fashion, white leather shoes, collages like clothing, silks/fine fabrics, bodies still, eyes blinking, one female performer facing us. rested on elbows, shelf-like, audience settles in, lighting stays same for while, then slow darning to focus central, a lighting/architectural intervention of sorts, all the theatres lights pulled into centre, sitting low above 4 performers, roughly 8×8 square of spotlights pointing to the centre, intensity increased (this will get f’in warm!!) aesthetic of repetition – minimal sculpture like. Wondering whether it was a statement, a form of critique of theatrical architectures? I know Hassabi has done this before in stagewoks – no sound present when entering or when lights dim, but can feel a presence of sound, sub-bass, sountrack minimal and very progressive ,composed by Marina Rosenfeld, 2mins nothing heard yet still definite change in acoustics from a subbass. The hour plus performance consists mainly of the four bodies, individually, machine-like shifts/transfer of weight to change positions,  most commonly from ground to sitting up, holding positions equally pushing the strength and stillness and suspension to almost climax (show almost doesn’t have one as such), Images in no order such as; bathing, basking, sleeping, glamour poses, leg raises, crossed legs, embraces, stroking legs to rest on top, spooning, mm from kissing, confrontations, rejections from others, succeeding, seducing, suffering, yoga poses, staring down deep below the ground  as sweat from performer drips off < shows actual time against their performative time, pelvis raised contorting body, images of pleasure, beginnings of standing but deciding not to. Back to sound, 3/4 components; sub-bass, waves/coastal, vocal fragments < these become significant almost markers of the performance, “uh” “muh” te” most ‘human’ component of the piece whilst watching the static objects/bodies, reminds of their life and re-examine them, we see struggles, mainly in Hassabi, tension is extreme and intense, lighting becomes a method for study of bodies and their 3-dimensionality, lighting rig, has constant rhythm of rise and drop for most then begins to explore directions and space, small/large circles of light, diagonals casting singular bodies alone in light< isolation of body very affective has only been a cluster till then, the sound and light create the performances form of climax, a slow build of the sub-bass mixed with the coastal noises, the sound becoming intense and resonating off all pieces of furniture and our own bodies, the performers still, sound rises for 3/4 mins, then cuts, nothing changes, 2mins pass, no sound present, lights drop quick fade sudden black out, audiences automatic response to applaud< only moment comfortable to, lights quickly rise, nothing has changed, bodies still still, its not finished? < she skillfully playing with preconceived ideas of theatre, another minute or two passes then house lights rise, we wait, still unsure, then the doors open the audience is comfortable leaving, many using this opportunity to photograph the performers, who are still there as they begin to be viewed as a sculptural form until the doors close.




Trisha Brown.

Access to the large database of original documentation of some of Trisha Browns early works (from 1966-75) was an amazing experience, looking back to works such as Man Walking down the side of a building 1970, Leaning Duets 1970, Floor of the Forest and Falling Duet (I) 1970 show Browns engagement with Horizontality from early on in her Career. This notion was brought up to me in the essay Topppling Dance by Andre Lepecki, speaking on Brown’s It’s a Draw/ Live Feed:

“This onctrolled yet released falling, this temporary, willful withdrawal from the verticality of the figure is what unrestrictedly authorizes Brown’s embrace of horizontality as a critique of the vertical-perspectival through the anti-representational and asymbolic game that is It’s a Draw/ Live Feed

Even if this refers to a later work of hers, Looking at how she presents, acknowledge and explicitly uses gravity and horizontality in her early performance seems to show a different concern than representation. Moreover in works  such as Leaning Duets and Floor of the Forest that there is struggle or lack of, which shows the bodies trying something. Work is produced, I like this aspect of Brown and others such a Yvonne Rainers that work is replaces as a type of performance quality. Intention becomes integral, exciting and holding to the performers actions. The early footage of Leaning Duets I requested shows this struggle and playful quality of Browns work really well. It forms a reminder of our (onbsrvers) bodies use/functionality and how one navigates, negotiates landscapes whether it is natural or man-made.

The works continue to tour seen here



Merce Sequence Found!

On the third trip I made I finally came across a full length documentation of Walkaround Time (stage rehearsal) filmed by Charles Atlas. This was after requesting and viewing 3 other videos on file and requesting two of the company’s photo collection searching for any clues. I was questioning the text I read the description from and  how simple the sequence really was and began scrutinising and watching the whole performance pausing sketching any moments I felt could be it. The vocabulary of a run could be many things, but the give away would be the interaction with the performance costume. The camera work of Atlas is great, using the stage as an environment to explore rather than the singular viewpoint of the audience like in the previous video link. The camera scans around sequences being ‘marked’ and dancers resting (I wonder if this came into Bels process of making Veronique Doisneau). The footage damaged means John Cages soundtrack drops in and out a chance effect that could seem on purpose but the total absence and abruptness tells me otherwise.

So the camera scans away from three dancers resting to the back left where Merce stands behind one of Jasper Johns plastic replicas of Duchamp sculpture. Dressed in a flesh pink two part leotard He has a second top half tied round his waist. He begins to run on the spot. Galloping/prancing, in the aesthetic he developed, the toes pointing down, knees raise to waist, economic yet still energetic. The excess flesh of his second top flaps as it is agitated through the movement (maybe the most unclean presentation of the body i’ve seen of Cunnninghams work, considering their use of leotards for most performances.) Merce continues to run on the spot, removing his top half and ties round waist. The spare top then replaces the original. This sequence is very interesting as it seems to be the closest form of found movement in his works. It is very interesting to see how this has come from A nude descends staircase No. 2 by Duchamp, the removal of tops seems to form a readymade quality akin to one of Duchamps sculptures. The upper and lower half of his body work together and continue moving but seem to have different aesthetics…

It seemed a small victory to find a piece of movement being close to an exact description in the essay but it has given me a fuller idea of how this sequence sat in relation to the full performance and the surrounding stage set. Whilst developing A nude descends into a lump 8.1-8.3 I began using a marked mirror as a way to study the walking. I plan to develop this into a sculpture, finding this footage will inform how I install the mirror sculpture, using panels of the clothing pattern used in Merces performance.


Part of the Jerome Robbins dance archive is the special collections department. This deals with ephemera, photographs and artifacts relating to dance. I requested a special print book called Footnotes produced by the Choreographer Jenifer Mascall. This was an incredible discover for me in the archive, the unbound portfolio contained reproductions of a huge range of dance artists including  Lucinda Childs, Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer and Anna Halprin. With all the restricted access within the department I was happy to be informed photography of prints in the collection was allowed, however i did not want to publish too many images in this blog.

Within the forward there are some interesting ideas concerning notation of dance/performance and the approach of how one should look at these when reading them.

“Each word is lost without the environment of the dance it is in. It need not have any similarity with the ideain our minds for which it stands…It’s mening has three directions: our (the observer’s) idea of what, for example, a jump section would be like, the choreographers referential meaning from the note ti the dance or the dance to the note, and a behavioural meaning for someone like the dancer who, given the note as an instruction does what they are required”

“this is not a readerly text…Incoherence is preferable to a distorting order”

“A musical notation that looks beautiful is not beautiful notation because it is not the function of a notation to look beautiful”

“the method is to use a structure (personal, image,spatial) in lieu of thinking about something else. These loose forms provide the patterns for a matrix made up of the choreographers observations on herself, the dances, one the dance, on their notes, her notes, on the outsiders observations*. It is similar to writing dreams. There is really another thought going on other than the facts but the words are the only tools available”


“The note as part of the choreographer.

The note as part of the choreography.

The choreography as person, as writer, as notetaker.

The note as note.

The note as part of the notebook of the choreographer.

The note as part of an anthology of notes.

The note as notation.”


*I really like this term instead of viewer or audience. It has a more neutral feel as it relates to no environment specifically i.e. Theatre/gallery.



Thinking about how my excitement around seeing some of these scores was a reaction to images and the possibilities they have within and how can this relate to my thoughts around what a condition report could be for a performance. What makes these documents potentially problematic is the intangible aspects of performing. I wrote a small note about this aspect and how I could work with this into a new artwork…


  • The intangible natures/aspects of dance and performance

leads to  > seduction of 1 artefacts

2 Plans/scores/skethes



tive*  performance.

(could I write a C.R. as this? would this be a form of critique of documenting performance?)

*Like in Mette Ingvartsons 69 Positions

– give em a kinaesthetic experience

> tell them (observer) what will proceed and let them run away with it. Using ellipses as a performative tool?