Dance is a vision of how we would all move in Dance paradise.
— New York Times
Dance is a historic collaboration between three of the 20th Century's art super stars — choreographer Lucinda Childs, composer Philip Glass and visual artist Sol LeWitt. Symbolic of the minimalist movement that emerged from the 1960s New York art scene, Dance is set against a backdrop of black and white footage of the company performing passages from the actual piece, propelled forward by the pulsating rhythms of its musical score. The intricacy of Child's use of repetition and patterns and the way the Dancers interact with LeWitt's filmed versions of themselves and Glass's persistent score, caused it to immediately be hailed as a post-modernist masterpiece. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to experience a recreation of this stunning collaboration.
Dance was commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music and choreographed in 1979 by Lucinda Childs. It consists of three Dances of approximately twenty minutes in length, and is performed without an intermission. Dances #1 and #3 are performed by four men and four women, while the solo, Dance #2, was originally Danced by Lucinda Childs. The music for Dance was composed by Philip Glass, and while Dances #1 and #3 are played by the Philip Glass Ensemble, Dance #2 is played by Philip Glass and Michael Riesman on electric organ.
The decor for the work is a black and white film by Sol LeWitt, which consists of selected passages of the choreography from each of the three Dances. In performance the film is projected on a transparent scrim downstage of the Dancers, and is perfectly synchronized with the live Dances on stage. Through shifts in the camera angle and changes of scale (the Dancers are seen sometimes in close up or sometimes in long shot) the spectator's point of view is subjected to a series of ingenious manipulations. With split screen images, LeWitt at times projected the film directly about the Dancers on stage, on the same scale, creating a perfect double set of Dancers, while at other times he displaced the Dancers to the left or the right while alternating a front or back orientation. In addition, he enclosed image within image and in certain instances superimposed moments of filmed images in freeze frame.
The choreography is entirely abstract but follows the musical score very closely. The punctuated entrances and exits to and from the wings of the proscenium stage make for a kind of visual counter point to the music. This is essentially apparent in Dance #1 when the Dancers sweep across the stage in pairs on horizontal paths with increasingly complex combinations of 12 count, 24 count and 48 count phrases. The spatial patterns for each Dance have an underlying geometric pattern which does not change but which serves to highlight the subtle variations in phrasing of each movement sequence presented, for the most part, in a cumulative fashion.
San Francisco Performances presents Philip Glass, pianoApr 30, 2011 2:00pm
Lam Research Theater at YBCA
Legendary composer Philip Glass will perform a solo recital of classic works from the period around Lucinda Childs' minimalist masterpiece Dance. The program includes Mad Rush—originally composed for organ in 1980. Besides other pieces he wrote during the Dance era, Glass will also play a selection from his Etudes.
Lucinda Childs began her career as choreographer and performer in 1963 as an original member of the Judson Dance Theater in New York. After forming her own Dance company in 1973, Ms. Childs collaborated with Robert Wilson and Philip Glass on the opera Einstein on the Beach, participating as leading performer and choreographer; she also participated in the revivals of the opera in 1984, and 1992. Since 1979, Ms. Childs has collaborated with a number of composers and designers, including John Adams and Frank Gehry, on a series of large-scale productions. The first of these was Dance choreographed in 1979 with music by Philip Glass, and a film/decor by Sol LeWitt, for which Ms. Childs was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Ms. Childs has received a number of commissions from major ballet companies, including choreography for Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe for the Geneva Opera Ballet(2003) and a revival of Concerto, with music by Henry Gorecki, originally created for her own company in 1993; Opus One, a new solo for Mikhail Baryshnikov with music by Alban Berg (2003); Bartok's Mandarin Merveilleux for the Ballet de l'Opéra du Rhin (2004); a revival of Dance performed at the Theatre de la Ville in Paris and in the Festival de la Danse in Cannes (2004); Ten Part Suite for the Boston Ballet with music by Arcangelo Corelli (2005); Stravinsky's Firebird for MaggioDanza in Florence, which was presented in a program that also included a revival of John Adam's Chairman Dances choreographed for Les Ballets de Monte Carlo (2000); and Largo, a solo choreographed for Mikhail Baryshnikov (2001). She has also choreographed Stravinsky's Symphony of Palms for MaggioDanza (2007) with a revival of Daphnis et Chloe; a revival of Chamber Symphony, with music by John Adams, by the Bayerisches Staats Ballett in Munich (2007), where it premiered in 1994, and in the same year she returned to the Opéra du Rhin to choreograph and direct Stravinsky's Le Rossignol and Oedipus Rex. Most recently she has choreographed Tempo Vicino for the Ballet National of Marseille which premiered in May, 2009.
During 1977–78, Ms. Childs performed opposite Wilson, in his two-act play I Was Sitting On My Patio This Guy Appeared I Thought I Was Hallucinating, and in 1987-88, in Wilson's production of Heiner Muller's Quartett at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1996–97, she appeared Wilson's production of La Maladie de la Mort by Marguerite Duras, opposite French actor Michel Piccoli. In 2007 she appeared in Robert Wilson's production of Bach's Passion of Saint John at the Théâtre de Chatelet in Paris.
Since 1992, Ms. Childs has worked extensively in the domain of opera, including Luc Bondy's production of Richard Strauss's Salome, for the Salzburg Festival (1999), which was revived for La Scala in Milan in 2007; Bondy's production of Verdi's MacBeth for the Scottish Opera (1995); and Peter Stein's De Nederlandse Opera's production of Moise et Aron (1995). That same year Ms. Childs directed her first opera, Mozart's Zaide, for La Monnaie in Brussels. In 2001, Ms Childs choreographed Los Angeles Opera's production of Wagner's Lohengrin, conducted by Kent Nagano. In 2002, Ms. Childs directed Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice for the Scottish Opera and in 2003, Ms. Childs was invited to return to Los Angeles Opera to choreograph and direct a new production of Orfeo ed Euridice. Ms. Childs also choreographed Roland Aeschlimann's production of Wagner's Parsifal, which premiered at the Grand Theatre de Gen&eagrave;ve in 2004, and most recently she choreographed John Adams new opera, Doctor Atomic, directed by Peter Sellars, which premiered in October, 2005 with the San Francisco Opera, and was revived by the Holland Festival (2007) and the Lyric Opera of Chicago (2007).
In 2004, Ms. Childs was appointed by the French Government to the rank of Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Through his operas, his symphonies, his compositions for his own ensemble, and his wide–ranging collaborations with artists ranging from Twyla Tharp to Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen to David Bowie, Philip Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times. The operas — 'Einstein on the Beach,' 'Satyagraha,' 'Akhnaten,' and 'The Voyage,' among many others — play throughout the world's leading houses, and rarely to an empty seat. Glass has written music for experimental theater and for Academy Award-winning motion pictures such as 'The Hours' and Martin Scorsese's 'Kundun,' while 'Koyaanisqatsi,' his initial filmic landscape with Godfrey Reggio and the Philip Glass Ensemble, may be the most radical and influential mating of sound and vision since 'Fantasia.' His associations, personal and professional, with leading rock, pop and world music artists date back to the 1960s, including the beginning of his collaborative relationship with artist Robert Wilson. Indeed, Glass is the first composer to win a wide, multi–generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the Dance world, in film and in popular music — simultaneously.
He was born in 1937 and grew up in Baltimore. He studied at the University of Chicago, the Juilliard School and in Aspen with Darius Milhaud. Finding himself dissatisfied with much of what then passed for modern music, he moved to Europe, where he studied with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger (who also taught Aaron Copland , Virgil Thomson and Quincy Jones) and worked closely with the sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar. He returned to New York in 1967 and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble — seven musicians playing keyboards and a variety of woodwinds, amplified and fed through a mixer.
The new musical style that Glass was evolving was eventually dubbed 'minimalism.' Glass himself never liked the term and preferred to speak of himself as a composer of 'music with repetitive structures.' Much of his early work was based on the extended reiteration of brief, elegant melodic fragments that wove in and out of an aural tapestry. Or, to put it another way, it immersed a listener in a sort of sonic weather that twists, turns, surrounds, develops. There has been nothing 'minimalist' about his output. In the past 25 years, Glass has composed more than twenty operas, large and small; eight symphonies (with others already on the way); two piano concertos and concertos for violin, piano, timpani, and saxophone quartet and orchestra; soundtracks to films ranging from new scores for the stylized classics of Jean Cocteau to Errol Morris's documentary about former defense secretary Robert McNamara; string quartets; a growing body of work for solo piano and organ. He has collaborated with Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Yo–Yo Ma, and Doris Lessing, among many others. He presents lectures, workshops, and solo keyboard performances around the world, and continues to appear regularly with the Philip Glass Ensemble.
Sol LeWitt is considered one of the most important artists to have emerged from the Minimal and Conceptual art movements. Since 1960, LeWitt has worked in a variety of media including sculpture, drawing (both on paper and walls), prints, and photography.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1928, as a child LeWitt enjoyed making art and took classes at the Wadsworth Atheneum to develop this interest. He studied art more formally at Syracuse University, from where he would graduate in 1949. In the summer of 1950, LeWitt traveled throughout Europe to study firsthand the art of the old masters. Afterwards, he was drafted for the Korean War, where one of his duties included producing posters. Following his service, LeWitt moved to New York City to study at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School (now the School of Visual Arts). After working in the design department at Seventeen magazine, LeWitt worked for the architect I. M. Pei as an architectural draftsman, a job that would profoundly influence his ideas about art. Working with architects not only affected LeWitt's ideas concerning geometric precision and the viewer's relationship to the work, it also taught him that as an artist he could work with others, as architects do, to realize his vision.
LeWitt was originally associated with the Minimalist art movement due to his extensive use of reductive, geometric forms, namely the identical cubes, employed since 1965 in serial configurations, that would become a signature form. LeWitt later became so closely associated with the Conceptual art movement that he is often called 'the father of Conceptual art.' In 1967, LeWitt wrote 'Paragraphs on Conceptual Art' in which he argued that the idea, or concept, that informs the work is more important than the final physical form that the artist employs to transmit his ideas. As LeWitt wrote, 'I will refer to the kind of art in which I am involved as conceptual art. In conceptual art the idea of concept is the most important aspect of the work.'(1) It is because of this pivotal work and his 'Sentences on Conceptual Art' of 1969 that LeWitt is often credited with being the first to use the term 'Conceptual' to describe the practices of several artists, himself included, in the late 1960s.
In 1978, The Museum of Modern Art in New York held an important retrospective of fifteen years of LeWitt's work. This led to a critical reevaluation of LeWitt's work by many who were aware of the rigorous intellectual basis of the work, yet were nonetheless struck by its powerful beauty. LeWitt himself seems to have been affected by the retrospective as his work made after it changes, both in form and aesthetic, to incorporate new concerns and influences. While the square was central to LeWitt's early work, beginning in 1980 LeWitt expanded his geometric vocabulary to include the circle and the triangle. Using isometric projection, the forms took on the illusion of three-dimensionality, a reference perhaps to LeWitt's celebrated open cubic form sculptures. The subtle palette of burnished tones and the illusion of spatial depth in LeWitt's later works recalls both ancient Roman and Italian Renaissance frescoes, which LeWitt, who established a study in Spoleto, Italy in 1980, would have had opportunity to study firsthand.
LeWitt continues to be an important and influential artist. In 2000, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art staged a retrospective of his work that traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Sol LeWitt died April 8, 2007 in New York.
1. Sol LeWitt 'Paragraphs on Conceptual Art.' Originally published in Artforum, 5:10 (Summer 1997), pp. 79-84. Cited in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology edited by Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), p. 12.
This project is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces.
This performance is made possible in part through the generous support of Legato Capital Management, LLC.