Performing Arts: Dance
October 18, 2011
Gibney Dance Center held a special afternoon "Sorry I Missed Your Show!" program honoring Celia Ipiotis and the EYE ON DANCE educational television series as EYE ON DANCE (EOD) celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Welcomed by Gina Gibney and Dance/NYC’s Executive Director, Lane Harwell, EOD founder and director, Celia Ipiotis, takes us back to her thought process in 1981 when she and co-founder Jeff Bush began to produce the weekly TV interview series “to excite interest in dance."

The screening of the 1990 EOD TV interview highlights Judson Dance Theater’s contributions to modern dance, through the discussion and opinions of some of its most significant figures – Yvonne Rainer and Sara Rudner. Throughout, we see clips of both performing segments from Rainer’s renowned “Trio A,” part of a larger work entitled The Mind is a Muscle. The movement appears to be task-oriented and is stripped of the dance conventions at that time – including a conscious lack of eye contact with the audience.

In the twenty-nine minute episode, Rainer describes her relationship to dance - how she was responding to exhibitionism in performance and challenging the posture, aesthetic and even uniform of ballet. She and Rudner both placed much value on their freedom to experiment with movement.

Rainer notes others who were involved in this re-thinking of dance such as the Grand Union dance group, nonchalantly stating, “They wanted to perform together, but didn’t want to rehearse together. So, they came together and improvised.” This matter-of- fact approach to dance carried over in their choreography, use of nudity, merging with other art forms, and the feeling that audience approval was unnecessary.

Rudner comments, “The body took over and the dance happened, and the references of your training were there to be your support, not what you were showing.” Their views were revolutionary at the time and would have an undeniable impact on what “dance” meant.

Following the screening, Ipiotis and Rainer joined together to engage in a discussion on where dance has since gone and how Rainer has evolved, bringing the program full circle. Rainer, who stopped dancing for years to pursue a career in film, is faced with the question, “Why?” She responds, “Aging, illness, feminism…film offered an area in which to explore the possibilities of text, editing, sound, movement and image – including dance – so it seemed like a much wider field.”

Along with anecdotes about her time working with Mikhail Baryshnikov for the White Oak Dance Project (1999), it is most refreshing to hear Rainer speak of her work with such practicality and honesty, even in retrospect. Unlike “Trio A,” not all her works were documented on film or otherwise. She says, “Some were simple, like in Three Seascapes: the first part you run around. The second part you do something not choreographed. The third part, well, you have a screaming fit.”

Opened to questions and comments, Mindy Aloff (dance writer and faculty of Barnard College’s Dance Department) reflects on a master class taught by Rainer that she once brought her students to. She recalls, “You made us wear sneakers. And for an hour and a half we ran…It was unusual and completely different from any other class. And it was exciting. You completely changed my views and I’ve waited all these years to tell you that.”

Currently, Ipiotis’ nonprofit arts organization, Arts Resources in Collaboration (ARC) is working on the EYE ON DANCE ARCHIVE LEGACY PROJECT. The three-year fundraising campaign strives to process all the archived collections (everything from videotapes, rare interviews and performance footage, photos, promotional and print materials, books, dance periodicals, etc.), making them accessible to the greater public. Through donations, more materials can be identified, catalogued and restored, helping to create one of largest archives on dance. To get involved, please visit: EYE ON DANCEor contact EOD via 70 East 10th Street Suite 19D, NY NY 10003.

For future Sorry I Missed Your Show! programming, visit
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jennifer T. Thompson

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