Simone Forti in Conversation with Malik Gaines – Danspace Project
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Simone Forti in Conversation with Malik Gaines

Simone Forti, "That Fish is Broke," Danspace Project's Platform 2012: Judson Now, November 2012. Photo: Ian Douglas.

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On the occasion of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)’s acquisition of Simone Forti’s Dance Constructions (1961), Danspace Project and MoMA’s Department of Media and Performance Art are collaborating on an unprecedented research residency. The acquisition comprises the rights to perform the dances and a set of instructions, alongside a set of related archival materials. The Simone Forti Research Residency is intended to provide a platform for Forti to work closely with groups of dancers and teachers in order to communicate the dances to new generations of performers and participants. During the weeklong residency, Forti, invited guests, and the public will engage in discussions and workshops to ensure that this work is brought to the art and dance community and the new generations who will carry it forward.

This evening includes Simone Forti in conversation with artist and writer Malik Gaines, Judy Hussie-Taylor, Executive Director and Chief Curator, Danspace Project; and Ana Janevski, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, MoMA.

The Simone Forti Research Residency is co-organized by Danspace Project and the Department of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art.

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Simone Forti is a dancer/choreographer based in Los Angeles. In 1955 she began dancing with Anna Halprin, who was doing pioneering work in dance improvisation in the San Francisco Bay Area. After four years of studying and performing with Halprin, Forti moved to New York City. There she studied composition at the Merce Cunningham Studio with musicologist/dance educator Robert Dunn, who was introducing dancers to the work of composer/philosopher John Cage. In these classes she began her association with choreographers including Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer, and Steve Paxton. In the spring of 1961 she presented a full evening of what she called Dance Constructions at Yoko Ono’s loft studio. These pieces were seminal to the Judson Dance Theater, which revolutionized dance in New York in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the 1970s Forti’s improvising was anchored in observations of animals’ movements, both for varieties of ways of moving, and for what she came to think of as the roots of dance behavior. She has often performed in collaboration with musicians, including Charlemagne Palestine and Peter Van Riper. In the early 1980s Forti started improvising speaking while moving. Working with newspapers, she began performing News Animations, giving expression to images, memories, and speculations sparked by the news media.

Forti has performed and taught throughout the US, Canada, and Europe, and in Japan, Korea, Australia, and Venezuela. She has received various grants and awards, including a 2005 Guggenheim Fellowship in dance and a 2011 Yoko Ono Lennon Award for Courage in the Arts.

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