Conversations Without Walls: Barbara Dilley & Yvonne Rainer with Wendy Perron
November 25, 2020
Closed captions are available by clicking the “CC” button on the video. A PDF transcript of the conversation linked here.
This Conversation Without Walls (CWW) was recorded on November 10, 2020 and first broadcasted on YouTube Live Saturday, November 21, 2020.
This conversation is between dancer and Danspace co-founder, Barbara Dilley, and artist, Yvonne Rainer, and facilitated by writer, Wendy Perron. This CWW celebrates the 50th anniversary of the legendary Grand Union’s first performances and the publication of Perron’s new book, The Grand Union: Accidental Anarchists of Downtown Dance, 1970 – 1976 (Wesleyan University Press, 2020).
Included in this CWW
The Grand Union
The Grand Union was a Soho, NYC-based collective that came out of Rainer’s work, the task-oriented Continuous Project—Altered Daily (1970). This group, which Perron coins “the movie stars of our neighborhood,” consisted of Becky Arnold, Trisha Brown, Barbara Dilley, Douglas Dunn, David Gordon, Nancy Lewis, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, and Lincoln Scott.
Books authored by the CWW participants
Barbara Dilley: This Very Moment: teaching, thinking, dancing (Naropa University Press, 2015)
Wendy Perron: The Grand Union: Accidental Anarchists of Downtown Dance, 1970 – 1976 (Wesleyan University Press, 2020), and Through the Eyes of a Dancer: Selected Writings (Wesleyan University Press, 2013)
Becky Arnold, Carolyn Brown, Trisha Brown, Steve Christiansen, Douglas Dunn, Larry Fagin, Simone Forti, David Gordon, “Debbie” Deborah Hollingworth, James Klosty, Nancy Lewis (formerly Green), Harry Nilsson, Mary Overlie, Steve Paxton, Carlota Schoolman, Lincoln Scott, Valda Setterfield, Cat Stevens, and Brenda Way.
- Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado
- Missoula, Montana
- LoGiudice Gallery, New York, NY
- Oberlin College (Oberlin Dance Collective), Oberlin, Ohio
- ODC, San Francisco, CA
- SoHo, New York, NY
Social and historical U.S. contexts, concurrent with the early days of the Grand Union, compiled by Yvonne Rainer
- The Rolling Stones
- Nixon goes to China to meet Chairman Mao
- Angela Davis released from prison
- Coppola’s The Godfather is released
- Black Panthers are still active
- Supreme Court suspends the death penalty
- Last US ground troops withdrawn from Vietnam
- US bombing of Hanoi and Cambodia
Archival videos compiled by Wendy Perron
1) “Connecticut Rehearsal” (excerpt) 1969: This is from a rehearsal at American Dance Festival at Connecticut College for Continuous Project—Altered Daily, by Yvonne Rainer, which eventually morphed into the group that became Grand Union. Appearing in this excerpt: Becky Arnold, Barbara Dilley, Douglas Dunn, David Gordon, and Yvonne Rainer. Steve Paxton, who was part of the group, was not at that residency. This film was shot by Michael Fajans.
2) Grand Union at LoGiudice Gallery, May 1972: Appearing in this excerpt (in order of appearance): David Gordon and Trisha Brown, Barbara Dilley, Douglas Dunn, Nancy Lewis (hidden, held by David), and Yvonne Rainer. Video shoot directed by Carlota Schoolman.
3) Grand Union residency at Oberlin College, January 1972: Appearing in this excerpt: Barbara Dilley, Steve Paxton. Video shot by Steve Christiansen.
4) Grand Union residency at Oberlin College, January 1972: Appearing in this excerpt, from left to right: David Gordon, Nancy Lewis, Lincoln Scott, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, and Barbara Dilley.
5) Grand Union at LoGiudice Gallery, May 1972: Appearing in this excerpt: Yvonne Rainer (reading from Steps by Jerzy Kosiński, 1968), Trisha Brown, Douglas Dunn, Barbara Dilley, and Steve Paxton. Video shoot directed by Carlota Schoolman.
*The videos at LoGiudice can currently be found in three locations:
- The Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts.
- The Fales Library & Special Collections, NYU Bobst Library
- Yvonne Rainer collection at Getty Research Institute in L.A.
Bibliography, compiled by Wendy Perron
Baker, Robb. “Grand Union: Taking a Chance on Dance.” Dance Magazine, October 1973.
Banes, Sally. Democracy’s Body: Judson Dance Theater, 1962–1964. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993.
———. Greenwich Village 1963: Avant-Garde Performance and the Effervescent Body. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993.
———. “An Interview with David Gordon.” eddy, Winter 1977, 17–25.
———. ed. Reinventing Dance in the 1960s: Everything Was Possible.
Foreword by Mikhail Baryshnikov. Madison: University of Wisconsin
———. Terpsichore in Sneakers: Post-Modern Dance. Middletown, CT:
Wesleyan University Press, 1987.
Béar, Liza. “Barbara Dilley . . . in The Dancing Room.” Avalanche, no. 12,
Bennahum, Ninotchka, Wendy Perron, and Bruce Robertson, eds. Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti, and Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955–1972. Art, Design and Architecture Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara in association with University of California Press, 2017. Exhibition catalog.
Bernstein, Roslyn, and Shael Shapiro. Illegal Living: 80 Wooster Street and the Evolution of SoHo. New York: Jonas Mekas Foundation, 2010.
Dilley, Barbara. This Very Moment: teaching thinking dancing. Boulder, CO: Naropa University Press, 2015.
Dixon Gottschild, Brenda. Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996.
Dunn, Douglas. Dancer Out of Sight: Collected Writings of Douglas Dunn. Drawings by Mimi Gross. New York: Ink, Inc., 2012.
Fiore, Jessamyn, ed. 112 Greene Street: The Early Years (1970–1974). New York: David Zwirner in association with Radius Books, 2011. Exhibition catalog.
Gordon, David. ’70s Archiveography. Accessed November 15, 2017. http://davidgordon.nyc/script/70s-archiveography-part-1.
Jowitt, Deborah. “Chapter 8: Everyday Bodies.” In Time and the Dancing Image, 303–37. New York: William Morrow, 1988.
Koteen, David, and Nancy Stark Smith. Caught Falling: The Confluence of Contact Improvisation, Nancy Stark Smith, and Other Moving Ideas. Northampton, MA: Contact Editions, 2008.
McDonagh, Don. The Rise and Fall and Rise of Modern Dance. New York: New American Library, 1970.
Overlie, Mary. Standing in Space: The Six Viewpoints Theory and Practice. Self-published, 2016.
Paxton, Steve. “Performance and the Reconstruction of Judson.” Contact Quarterly 7, no. 3/4 (1982): 57.
Perron, Wendy, ed. “A Celebration of Robert Ellis Dunn.” Special issue, Movement Research Performance Journal 14 (Fall 1997).
Rainer, Yvonne. Feelings Are Facts: A Life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006. ———. Yvonne Rainer: Work 1961–73. Halifax: The Press of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design; New York: New York University Press, 1974.
Ramsay, Margaret Hupp. The Grand Union (1970–1976): An Improvisational
Performance Group. New York: Peter Lang, 1991.
Rosenberg, Susan. Trisha Brown: Choreography as Visual Art. Middletown,
CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2017.
Ross, Janice. Anna Halprin: Experience as Dance. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.
Teicher, Hendel. Trisha Brown: Dance and Art in Dialogue 1961–2001. Andover, MA: Addison Gallery of American Art, MIT Press, 2002.
Vaughan, David. Merce Cunningham: Fifty Years. New York: Aperture, 1997.
Walsh, Jack, dir. Feelings Are Facts: The Life of Yvonne Rainer, 2015. Digital film, 82 mins. Film and bonus material available at www.feelingsarefacts.com; sold by Canyon Cinema, http://canyoncinema.com/catalog/film /?i=5168.
Perron, Wendy. “How Grand Union Found a Home Outside of SoHo at the Walker,” 2020. Living Collections Catalogue, Walker Art Center. Accessed November 2020.