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Natasha Peatross Caroline Prohosky and Graham Brown Dance 461 March 18, 2014 Judson Dance Theatre

and the Grand Union Modernism began in the mid 19th and early 20th centuries. It was an exciting period of time marked by many unexpected breaks in the traditional ways of viewing and interacting with the world. Experimentation and finding the individual voice became the dominant virtues in society. Change was set in motion by many modern pioneers through a series of cultural shocks. Within this individual group of modernists existed dancers Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Mary Wigman, Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, and Jos Limn; all key figures who pioneered the genre of modern dance. For years leading up to the modern era traditional ballet had dominated the social scene. These artists rebelled and continuously worked to redefine dance and bring about a whole new genre: modern dance. These modern dancers changed the way many people perceive truth and reality concerning dance. Ballet has morphed and many other genres have emerged since and along side these innovators of dance. These changes in the art form were indeed profound, and cannot easily be replaced, but rather expounded upon as they serve as a foundation for continuing dancers and choreographers (Brown). Toward the mid 20th century (post WWII), the economy and technology in the United States boomed. Once again creativity soared to new heights as art and

dance began transitioning into the post-modern era. Taking a closer look at this period in time for dance we find that the members of Judson Dance Theatre, a small contemporary dance company that lasted for the duration of two short years, proved to be a vital force for the post-modern world of contemporary dance (Kettle). A church thats a little bit different and committed to making a big difference(Judson Memorial Church). This is the motto of the Judson Memorial Church located in New York, and making a difference is exactly what they have helped achieve, especially concerning the post-modern dance era. In 1890 the church was founded as a religious institution that would serve the growing population of immigrants in Lower Manhattan. The hope was that Judson Church would be a place where people could gather to learn together through education, health, recreational programs as well as vibrant worship and religious instruction(Judson Memorial Church). In the 1960s, new and innovative ministries were placed in control and began to attract a new and growing kind of crowd. Among this crowd were dancers Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Dunn, Fred Herko, David Gordon, Valda Setterfield, Elaine Summers, Ruth Emerson, William Davis, Trisha Brown, Deborah Hay, and others; all members of an eventual group of performers that called themselves the Judson Dance Theater after Judson Memorial Church where most of their work was welcomed and presented. From 1962-1964, this group of dancers emerged from downtown New York. Together they collaborated at the Judson Memorial Church to move dance forward. It began in the summer of 1959 when a few individuals met while taking

composition classes from Robert Dunn in New York City (Kettle). These classes were very experimental in nature and had a strong basis in improvisation and analysis of choreography. The dancers found a common interest in movement exploration and decided to meet again that following summer. They reunited for a three-week workshop that focused on structured improvisation. These artists together refused the restrictions of current modern dance practice and theory. They sought to challenge the views of what dance was and potentially could be. From 1960-1961, they continued working with one another. In 1962, the dancers decided to make their company official and with the addition of a few other members, Judson Dance Theater was born (Judson Memorial Church). By this time they had discovered their creative rhythm. Their works were some of the first to be formed via so much group collaboration. They had no director, no choreographer, no one-man running the show. Each member of Judson Dance Theater had a voice throughout the creative process (Brown). Rebelling against the teachings of their predecessors, members of this investigative company always had very specific intentions as to what they were exploring (Banes). They took the time to collaboratively design their improvisations, which eventually brought about new works. Taking risks in dance making while practicing daily in the Church they designed improvisations, created movement, presented to one another, granted criticism, reconstructed, and repeated the cycle until they were satisfied. Performances were then held at the church and the public was openly invited to come see these new works, free of charge (Judson Memorial Church). By allowing the general public to freely participate in their discovery

process they hoped to alter how dance was accepted and viewed. Up until this time, most dance techniques were rigorous and required dancers to study and train for years in order to become skillful in dance. For a long time, the Judson Dance Theater was ingnored by the press. However, eventually it was accepted that The experiments and adventures of the Judson Dance Theater laid the groundwork for a post-modern aesthetic in dance that expanded and often challenged the range of purpose, materials, motivations, structures and styles in dance(Banes). Something unique to this group is that they were among the first to integrate dance with non-dancers, film, and other mediums of art that took dance in a new direction. They gave birth to the premise that any movement is dance and anyone can dance whether they have been trained or not. Initially these ideas were not very well received (Brown). Over the next two years the company created nearly 200 works. What they believed in and dared to explore laid the foundation for what would happen in modern dance for years to come. Judson Dance Theater was one of the major catalysts responsible for moving dance forward into the post-modern era; the era when all movement was accepted as dance and that anyone can participate (Kettle). Many important dances were created during the time of Judson Dance Theater. One of particular significance was created by Yvonne Rainer entitled, Trio A. This rather abstract piece presented movement reduced to its raw fundamentals. There were no dynamic changes in the movements throughout the piece. Even though some of the movements were fairly difficult to execute, the dancer did not

have to be technically trained in order to perform them. Somehow, the audience members were not bothered seeing dancers struggle with the movement (Ambrosio). Another significant piece created by Trisha Brown presented to us Man Walking Down Sid of Building in 1970. The title being self explanatory, it was performed in New York City as anyone who happened to walk during the performance stopped to watch. Trisha took simple movement patterns and challenged them as she played with direction, level, or timing of the movement, She turned simple motor patterns into visually complicated dances (Ambrosio). Although the company only lasted for two years, many of its members have since gone on to keep working with the abstract ideas cultivated during this period. In 1968, after Judson Dance Theater had disbanded, several of its initial members regrouped (along with a few new members) and formed a new company called the Grand Union. Like Judson Dance Theater, the artistic process was also a collaborative effort (Banes). All members had equality and everyone contributed to the artistic process. (Interestingly enough, this process has since caught on and many professional companies today have taken to using this format in creating new works.) Improvisations containing both dance and theater were the focus of the Grand Union with some of the material being political, some comical, some abstract and some literal(WEBSITE). The Grand Union [stretched] the formal limits of their art by incorporating objects (and gestures) from everyday life, using imagery (including sounds) from popular culture and making long, rambling works with a consistently changing stream of images and meanings(Ambrosio).

This company worked together from 1970 ending in 1976. Many important works were created during this period and The work produced during this time had a profound effect on the way both audiences and artists conceived of the role of performance and the body in contemporary culture(Kettle). Fifty years later, artists continue to expound upon the process and ideas brought about by Judson Dance Theater and the Grand Union. The influence and echo from Judson Dance Theater continues today, fifty years later. Judson Church is still supporting downtown dance, allowing artists of all types to come and present their works in free observations called Movement Research, founded in 1980. Movement Research is now one of the worlds leading laboratories for the investigation of movement-based forms of dancepost-modern dance (Movement Research). Works presented there are typically works still in progress. These presentations allow for audience members to give feedback through a series of discussions, presentations, and meetings, and provide the choreographers with a collaborative process similar to that used by Judson Dance Theater and the Grand Union (Kettle). Much like Judson Dance Theater, Movement Research exists to keep channels of information open; to keep questions and answers flowing; to make connections between basic facts of anatomy and aesthetic theory and technology. It is a laboratory...(Movement Research). Explorative movement and dance laboratories are since growing across the globe. These labs and low cost programs value the individual artist, their creative process, and their vital role within society. Many of the founders of Movement Research (the first movement laboratory of its

kind) were also participants in Judson Dance Theater and the work that followed. Its direct lineage is apparent by artists that performed in the first public performance in 1979: Trisha Brown, David Gordon, Valda Setterfield, and Douglas Dunn (Movement Research). Judson Church, Judson Dance Theater, the Grand Union, and many of the artists involved have made an incredible impact on the world of dance over the past 60 years. These post-modern choreographers were able to create works that produced drastic variation from the works of dancers before their time. Together they have played a large part in expanding the ideas of what is acceptable as dance, and also in introducing to us the collaborative possibilities through which compositions can be created.

Work Cited "Judson Memorial Church.". Judson Memorial Church. Web. 18 Mar 2014. <>. Kettle. "Movement Research in Residence (Rethinking the Imprint of Judson Dance Theater Fifty Years Later)." New Residence Museum. Dec 2012: n. page. Web. 24 Mar. 2014. <>. Brown, Pei-San. "The History of Modern Dance." Ballet Austin. (2007): 1-13. Print. < eStudentHandout.pdf>. "Movement Research." Movement Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Apr 2014. <>. Banes, Sally. Terpsichore in sneakers: post-modern dance. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press Scranton, PA, 1987. Print. Ambrosio, Nora. Learning about dance: dance as an art form & entertainment. Sixth. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt, 2010. Print. Ambrosio, Nora. Learning About Dance: An Introduction to Dance as an Art Form . 2nd Ed. United States: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., 1999. Print.