Speaking of Dance: Twelve Contemporary Choreographers on Their Craft

Speaking of Dance: Twelve Contemporary Choreographers on Their Craft

Speaking of Dance: Twelve Contemporary Choreographers on Their Craft

Speaking of Dance: Twelve Contemporary Choreographers on Their Craft

Synopsis

Speaking of Dance: Twelve Contemporary Choreographers on Their Craft delves into the choreographic processes of some of America's most engaging and revolutionary dancemakers. Based on personal interviews, the book's narratives reveal the methods and quests of, among others, Merce Cunningham, Meredith Monk, Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown, and Mark Morris. Morgenroth shows how the ideas, craft, and passion that go into their work have led these choreographers to disrupt known forms and expectations. The history of dance in the making is revealed through the stories of these intelligent, articulate, and witty dance masters.

Excerpt

Watching dance fills me with consummate satisfaction. I love the ebb and flow of a Mark Morris canon as it washes me in eddies of movement; the fitful sidestepping of four Trisha Brown dancers trying to stay directly behind a fifth dancer's unpredictable, slippery progress across the stage; and the startling moment when Ann Carlson, engulfed in layers of old ladies' clothing and taking a first shuffling step, cries like a newborn baby. These choreographers-and others equally inspired-are masters of movement, form, and theater. Because I am also a dancer and choreographer, I can't help feeling envy (I wish I had done that.), but even more, pride (This is what dance can be!). Drawn to the choreographers who had made such surprising, powerful dances, I wanted to talk with them, to find out how they make their work and how they experience their lives as choreographers. My conversations with them became this book.

Every step toward bringing Speaking of Dance into existence had its labors and its delights. Decades of going to performances in theaters, lofts, and public parks showed me what was out there and whetted my appetite to see more. Numerous trips to the New York Public Library Dance Collection at Lincoln Center allowed me to view recordings of dances I had missed seeing live. For six hours at a stretch in front of a video monitor, barely able to discern the movement because of the dim stage lighting, I struggled to perceive what the dances must have been. I read books, articles, reviews, and interviews. I became familiar with the voice of each choreographer even before we talked together. My interviews began in the fall of 2000 with Elizabeth Streb, whom I had known as a fellow dancer in New York in the 1970s, and ended with a trip to California in the spring of 2003, where I met the ebullient, ageless Anna Halprin.

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