AXIS & Yvonne Rainer's 'Trio A'

For many years it had been the dream of AXIS' Artistic Director Judith Smith to set a classic work of contemporary dance on the dancers of AXIS Dance Company. Now that dream is finally coming true. Yvonne Rainer at Judson Church

During fall '13 and winter '14, AXIS will have the unique opportunity to set the iconic postmodern dance Trio A on the company. Trio A was originally choreographed by Yvonne Rainer in 1966. Linda K Johnson dancer, choreographer, teacher and one of only 5 dancers granted permission by Rainer to transmit the work, will work with the dancers to set this piece of modern dance history.

About Yvonne Rainer & Trio A (This information are sections from the Wikipedia article on Yvonne Rainer. To read the full article click here)

"Yvonne Rainer (born November 24, 1934) is an American dancer, choreographer and filmmaker, whose work in these disciplines is frequently challenging and experimental. Her work is sometimes classified as minimalist art.

Rainer is noted for an approach to dance that treats the body more as the source of an infinite variety of movements than as the purveyor of emotion or drama. Many of the elements she employed—such as repetition, patterning, tasks, and games—later became standard features of modern dance.

In her early dances, Rainer focused on sounds and movements, and often juxtaposed the two in arbitrary combinations. Somewhat inspired by the chance tactics favored by Cunningham, Rainer’s choreography was a combination of classical dance steps contrasted with everyday, ordinary, pedestrian movement. She used a great deal of repetition, and employed narrative and verbal noises (including wails, grunts, mumbles, squeaks, and shrieks, etc.) within the body of her dances.

A turning point in Rainer’s choreography came in 1964, when, in an effort to strip movements of their expressive qualities, she turned to game structures to create works. All movement aimed to be direct, functional, and to avoid stylization. In so doing, she aimed to remove the drama from the dance movement, and to question the role of entertainment in dance. Throughout this stage of her choreography she worked towards movement becoming something of an object, to be examined without any psychological, social or formal motives. She opted for neutrality in her dances, presenting the objective presence of the human body and its movements, and refused to project a persona or create a narrative within her dances. In 1965, as a reaction to many of the previously stated feelings, Rainer created her "No Manifesto," which was a strategy formulated to demystify dance:

No to spectacle. No to virtuosity. No to transformations and magic and make-believe. No to the glamour and transcendency of the star image. No to the heroic. No to the anti-heroic. No to trash imagery. No to involvement of performer or spectator, No to style. No to camp. No to seduction of spectator by the wiles of the performer. No to eccentricity. No to moving or being moved.

This exploration in reducing dance to the essentials climaxed with one of Rainer’s most famous pieces, Trio A (1966), initially part of a larger work entitled The Mind Is a Muscle.

Something of a paradigmatic statement that questioned the aesthetic goals of postmodern dance, Trio A was a short dance that consisted of one long phrase.

In Trio A, Rainer attempted to remove objects from the dance while simultaneously retaining a workmanlike approach of task-based performance. Not simple but certainly not fancy, it was a demanding piece of work, both to watch and to perform. She explored such dynamics as repetition, the distribution of energy, and phrasing.

The movement consisted of task-oriented actions, emphasizing neutral performance and featuring no interaction with the audience. The dancer was to never make eye contact with her observers, and in the case that the movement required the dancer to face the audience, the eyes were to be averted from the audience or the head was to be involved in movement.

The first time the piece was performed it was entitled The Mind is a Muscle, Part 1, and was performed by a set of three simultaneous solos by Rainer, Steve Paxton, and David Gordon. Trio A has been widely adapted and interpreted by other choreographers. "

And now AXIS Dance Company will take on this challenge. Setting the work on dancers with and without physical disabilities. Below is a video of Yvonne Rainer in Trio A. We can't wait to see what it will look like on AXIS.

There will be a teach-in this Saturday at Mills College. Click here for more information.