※60 minutes without intermission
※Suggested for ages 12+
A few times, at most, in the course of a decade a work of art comes along that makes a genuine breakthrough, defining for us new modes of perception and feeling and clearly belonging as much to the future as to the present. Such a work is Dance.
— Washington Post
If good design equals the sum of its parts, it’s no question that 30 years later Dance endures.
—The New York Times
A Lucinda Childs ballet...no fat, no chatter, just pure art.
Small changes are appreciated in a decade dominated by big, flamboyant ones. Most people left thrilled by Dance, rightly seeing its performers as glistening, heroic elements of a mixed media artwork.
—The Village Voice
One of the greatest achievements of the 20th Century.
—Wall Street Journal
I find the music of Philip Glass deeply spiritual. Afterwards, you feel as though you’ve been taken on a voyage.
He (Sol LeWitt) is a great gift to the piece.
I like to move into new artistic territories and never want to repeat myself.
— Lucinda Childs
Dating back to 1979, during one of the New York art world’s most vibrant and prolific periods, Dance is Lucinda Childs’s legendary collaboration with composer Philip Glass and artist Sol LeWitt.
The choreography is entirely abstract, but follows the musical score very closely. The punctuated entrances and exits create a visual counterpoint to the music. The decor is a black and white film by Sol LeWitt, which consists of selected passages of the choreography from each of the three dances. During the performance, the film is projected onto a transparent screen, and is perfectly synchronized with the dancers on stage. Through shifts in the camera angle and changes in scale, the spectator’s point of view is subjected to a series of ingenious manipulations. In 2009, this classic was revived by the Richard B. Fisher Center at Bard College with a complete restoration of Sol LeWitt’s work on film. Childs is mesmerizing in her filmed solo centerpiece, her austere beauty frozen in time.
Lucinda Childs, one of the most representative postmodern choreographers, began her career at the Judson Dance Theater in 1963. In 1976, she collaborated with Robert Wilson and Philip Glass on the opera Einstein on the Beach, as principal performer and choreographer, for which she received a Village Voice Obie Award. She also received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1979 for Dance, with music by Philip Glass and film décor by Sol LeWitt. Since 1981, she has choreographed over 30 works for major ballet companies. More recently she has been active in the opera world as both choreographer and director.
Childs is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the 2001 Bessie Award for Sustained Achievement and the 2009 NEA/NEFA American Masterpiece Award. In 2017, she was awarded the Venice Biennale de la Danse Golden Lion Award and the 2017 Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award. She holds the title of Commander in France’s Order of Arts and Letters.
Philip Glass is considered one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century. In the early 1960s, he studied under the legendary Nadia Boulanger and worked closely with the sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar. In 1967, he formed the Philip Glass Ensemble in New York. He still performs on keyboards as part of this ensemble. By 1974, Glass had completed a number of innovative projects, amassing a large collection of new music for his Ensemble and the Mabou Mines Theater Company. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts, and the landmark opera, Einstein on the Beach, for which he collaborated with Robert Wilson.
Since Einstein, Glass has expanded his repertoire to include music for opera, dance, theater, chamber ensemble, orchestra, and film. His scores have received Academy Award nominations (Kundun, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal) and a Golden Globe Award (The Truman Show). In 2015, he received the National Medal of Arts.
Born in 1928, Sol LeWitt was a pioneer of Minimalism and Conceptualism. Starting with the simple but radical idea that an artwork's concept is more important than its form, LeWitt helped revolutionize the definition of art in the 1960s. By the middle of that decade, LeWitt had rejected the dominant, psychologically charged abstract style of art as impersonal and geometric. By repeating and varying a single principle, he created sculptural structures that were aesthetically satisfying even as their internal logic was pushed to the edge of irrationality.
LeWitt's repetition and variance were also the basis for his wall drawings. Each of these impermanent artworks consisted of a set of the artist's instructions, something like a musical score, with the actual execution carried out by someone else.
Over the years, LeWitt's austere compositions gradually became more complex and sensuous, though they remained true to his original precepts.
Choreography / Lucinda Childs
Music / Philip Glass
Film / Sol LeWitt
Lighting / Beverly Emmons
Original Costume Design / A. Christina Giannini
The reconstruction of DANCE was commissioned by the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, with additional support from The Yard, a colony for performing artists on Martha's Vineyard.
DANCE by Lucinda Childs was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts’ American Masterpieces: Dance initiative, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts.