yvonne rainer, 1966
The same year Rainer started choreographing her own work, and by 1962 she and several others had founded the Judson Dance Theatre. Though the troupe had disbanded by 1964, their performances at the progressive Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village gave rise to an influential new style that resisted the showy virtuosity of ballet in favor of more commonplace movements, such as walking, running, and speaking. Rainer developed a philosophy of performance that, like the minimalist ethos percolating simultaneously, eschewed hierarchy. No single element—moment, body part, form, person—should appear more important than any other. Moreover, spectacle, which generated detached and unengaged viewers, should be avoided. This approach can be found in Rainer’s choreography and several of her early films, such as the five-minute Hand Movie. This 1966 film features a single shot of the artist’s hand “dancing.” Because no finger moves without affecting the whole, the work becomes an elegant representation of the artist’s conception of how body parts or dancers affect one another.