If algorithms were made flesh, they'd look something like
Lucinda Childs' dance show, 'Dance'. Don't switch off - maths might
not conjure up the most sensuous imagery but that's the point and
anyway in Childs' hands, the theme is mesmerising.
A collboration with composer Phillip Glass and film-maker Sol
LeWitt, Childs first performed the show in the 1970s in New York,
shortly after her famous production 'Einstein on the beach'.
Described at the time by The Washington Post as "a genuine
breakthrough, defining for us new modes of perception and feeling,"
the show in its present incarnation stays true to its original
premise. Offering us a piece that is rich with repetitive,
minimalist movements and choreographed to recreate the moves danced
by Childs and her company back in the 1970s - filmed by Sol LeWitt
- the viewer is forced to divide her attention between what's
happening live on stage and the milky grey and white LeWitt film
projected onto a gauze screen (see photo).
Opening with the bracing minimalist sounds of Phillip Glass, the
music mirrors the mode of movement and left me curiously torn
between feeling the need to escape the Barbican auditorium and yet
feeling utterly mesmerised and pinned to my seat. As the dancers
traversed the stage I was trying to make sense of what was in front
of us. There was something about space, dissonance, repetition, a
dirth of emotion, an obsession with precision and an unrelenting,
almost inpenetrable pace and rythym. With arms outstretched and
dressed in utilitarian white, all eleven dancers possessed an airy
lightness that simulated darting birds in flight.
The next day, after speaking with Diane Torr who was part of the
post-modern dance scene in New York in the late 1970s, I learned
that Childs was an integral part of the revolutionary Judson Church
dance group of the early 1960s. Childs created new work in an
environment where dancers, such as Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton,
Deborah Hay, among others, explored new ideas of dance.
creating, for instance, dance collaborations with other non-dancers
like artist Robert Rauschenberg. They turned dance on its head.
This experimentation gave way to totally new possibilities for
dance and contrasted starkly with modernist ideas of dance that had
prevailed in New York of the 1940s/50s.
In the intervening years Childs has made work with Yvonne
Rainer, Robert Wilson and her former partner Susan Sontag.
Increasingly she has been producing work in Europe
- "Childs is revered across Europe as a grande dame of
American dance. In the United States, though, her work is so rarely
seen that she has assumed almost mythical status." - The New
York Times - and her reputation here has grown exponentially.
Awarded the Life Time Achievement Bessie Award in 2001, Childs was
appointed by the French Government to the highest rank of
Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. It is rightly