Choreographed by Yvonne Rainer, 1966 & Performed by Yvonne Rainer August 14, 1978.  Film by Yvonne Rainer

‘In 1962, Dancer, choreographer & filmmaker Yvonne Rainer founded the Judson Dance Theater, named after the Judson Memorial Church where they performed.  ‘In her early works, 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 wrote the “No Manifesto,” which was a strategy formulated to demystify dance and to break away from historical clichés.’ -Mackrell, Judith. “Yvonne Rainer: Dance Works review”The Guardian, Retrieved 3 November 2014


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.

“In 1968, toward the end of a decade that witnessed civil rights protests, the escalation of the war in Vietnam and an expanded notion of artistic practice, Yvonne Rainer presented her evening-length work, The Mind is a Muscle, a multipart performance for seven dancers interspersed with film and text. Catherine Wood examines the political and media context in which Rainer chose to use the dance-theatre situation and analyses her radical approach to image-making in live form. For Wood, The Mind is a Muscle proposed a new model of artwork that presents a dynamic tension between materiality and idea. It made manifest an agitated and contradictory relationship to the idea of ‘work’ in the context of affluent America, and stripped away the gestural conventions of dance or theatre narrative in an attempt to formulate new kinds of ‘social scripts’ while manipulating the seductiveness of the image, increasingly harnessed by capitalism.”-Catherine Wood


  • Mackrell, Judith. “Yvonne Rainer: Dance Works review”The Guardian, Retrieved 3 November 2014
  • Catherine Wood, The Mind Is A Muscle, Afterall Books
  • Wikipedia, Yvonne Rainer
  • Trio A By Yvonne Rainer, MOMA

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