24 July 2014

Poetry Thursday - Walking in the City by Yvonne Rainer


Yvonne Rainer: Walking in the City

I can still love this time of day
east from Chelsea
south to St. Marks
a toothless moon
clearing the autumn towers
each aglow in the sun's spent light

As long as I can pass tattoo parlors
palm readers, Greek luncheonettes, bodegas
there may still be room to breathe
in this devouring town

Keep moving


Born in San Francisco in 1934, Yvonne Rainer [dancer, choreographer, film maker] began training as a modern dancer in her early twenties at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York City. By 1960 she was taking experimental workshops at Merce Cunningham’s nearby studio, where Robert Dunn was applying John Cage’s chance-based compositions to dance. The same year Rainer started choreographing her own work, and by 1962 she and several others had founded the Judson Dance Theatre. Though the troupe had disbanded by 1964, their performances at the progressive Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village gave rise to an influential new style that resisted the showy virtuosity of ballet in favor of more commonplace movements, such as walking, running, and speaking. Rainer developed a philosophy of performance that, like the minimalist ethos percolating simultaneously, eschewed hierarchy. No single element—moment, body part, form, person—should appear more important than any other. Moreover, spectacle, which generated detached and unengaged viewers, should be avoided. (source)

Of her Poems (2011), a reviewer said: "the fact that Rainer has been stealthily writing poems can’t be too much of a surprise. She is, famously, an acute observer of behavior and condition. While the physical in her stage work is neighborly with text (sources for the piece at BAC included Rousseau, Lydia Davis, and William James, among others), so it is the other way around in Poems."

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