Go Deeper

Surprise Lucinda Childs Performance At Susan Hess

Posted May 27th, 2010

Last week we plugged the final performances at the Sansom Street home of Susan Hess Modern Dance. And whoa! As a special treat, the 69-year-old Lucinda Childs, who served as a mentor in their Masters Exchange program this year, totally danced.

The Inquirer‘s Merilyn Jackson has it covered: “To an excerpt of long-time collaborator Philip Glass’ music, she pranced forward like a fox, staring at the floor as if it were prey and pushing the heavy air before her aside, redefining the space.”

In September, the Live Arts Festival will bring Childs’s dance Dance to Philadelphia for the first time. A unique collaboration between Childs, conceptual artist Sol LeWitt (who created the film behind and with which the dancers perform), and Philip Glass, who composed the score, Dance is a crisp and pure study of movement.

Interest in Child’s dances and those from related collectives Judson Dance Theatre and Grand Union has surged recently, as detailed by Joan Acocella in this week’s New Yorker (subscription required). Acocella reviewed Dance for the magazine in October as well. After the jump, Acocella opines on why the new production of Dance is among the best of this movement’s revival.

Acocella, in the May 24 issue of the New Yorker:
“But probably the biggest hit of the recent shows was by Lucinda Childs. In the sixties, Childs was doing the sort of charming, prop-heavy pieces that Judson favored Then she left town, and, when she returned, five years later, she was interested in something else altogether: geometrical dances, and how they command modes of attention. At Bard College last year, she presented the most sumptuous of these, the 1979 ‘Dance,’ to a score by Philip Glass. Ten dancers flew across the stage in small, speedy phrases, which became longer and more complicated as the hour-long piece progressed. They looked like a bargello tapestry. But what was so ingenious was that the dance was accompanied by a Sol LeWitt film of the same dance, which was projected onto a scrim, as it was at the premiere. Sometimes the film hung atop the dancers, sometimes it played in front of them. It asked us to engage in two very different forms of perception at the same time: viewing dance versus viewing film. Add to this the score by Philip Glass, pouring forth like a bag of jewels, and you had a piece which, though entirely the development of a single phrase, was the most glamorous thing of the recent Judson/Grand Union seasons.”

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo by Nathaniel Tileston