Performance: Trio A

On the 17th of September 2010, Trio A, a choregraphic work created by Yvonne Rainer in 1966, was performed at Kunsthall Oslo by New York-based dancer Shelley Senter. The work, selected by the artist Silke Otto-Knapp as part of the exhibition ‘I Must Say That At First It Was Difficult Work’, was presented in Norway for the first time.

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About the dance, Rainer has written: ‘I worked on Trio A alone for six months in 1965. The dance consisted initially of a 5-minute sequence of movement that would eventually be presented as The Mind is a Muscle, Part I at Judson Church on January 10, 1966. … Two primary characteristics of the dance are its unmodulated continuity and its imperative involving the gaze. The eyes are always averted from direct confrontation with the audience via independent movement of the head or closure of the eyes or simple casting down of the gaze.’

‘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.’ (Yvonne Rainer, NO manifesto, 1965)

You can read more about Yvonne Rainer and Trio A in this interview and these articles from Senses of Cinema and Dance Research Journal (pdf)

Yvonne Rainer (b.1934, San Francisco) is a dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, and co-founder, in 1962, of the highly influential Judson Dance Theater in New York. After studying at the Martha Graham School and with Merce Cunningham, she began to choreograph works through which she could challenge traditional notions of dance performance. Most notably in Trio A (first performed in 1968 as part of the larger work The Mind is a Muscle), Rainer utilized a flow of mundane movements to complicate the performer/audience relationship and to draw attention to the body as a functional object—a strategy that finds its parallels in Minimalism. Her work in the 1970s, increasingly film-based, became more oriented toward content and context while still maintaining a focus upon form.

Shelley Senter has been involved with experimental dance for more than 25 years, performing, teaching and making work throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. She has been critically recognized and awarded for her distinct approach to movement, both as an independent artist, and as a collaborator with many distinguished artists, including Trisha Brown and Yvonne Rainer, whose work she transmits.  A renowned teacher of the Alexander Technique, her work is known for its influence in multiple artistic disciplines.