Still stimulating: ‘The Grand Union’ in 50th anniversary conversation


A special on-line convocation of a dance-talk series hosted by Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Place in New York’s East Village, Conversation Without Walls, will take place November 21. Participants include weighty women of the arts, the dancer and Danspace co-founder, Barbara Dilley, and artist, Yvonne Rainer, and writer, Wendy Perron.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the seminal dance/theater improvisational collective, The Grand Union, and celebrate the publishing of Ms. Perron’s book detailing its history and influence, Angelenos need to set their alarm for 9 a.m. on Saturday November 21 (New Yorkers can sleep till noon). Danspace is disseminating, on several platforms, a live-streamed conversation that promises to be illuminating and possibly historic. Ms. Dilley and Ms. Rainer figured in the ranks of Grand Union’s clever dance improvisers. And Ms. Perron just wrote its history.

Wendy Perron’s The Grand Union: Accidental Anarchists of Downtown Dance, 1970 – 1976 (Wesleyan University Press, 2020), an important new book, forms the basis of the conversation between these three bright women of contemporary dance. Ms. Perron will facilitate the conversation. She knows all the facts!

Barbara Dilley whose dance days spanned from 1960-75, performing with Merce Cunningham Dance Co., Yvonne Rainer, and the Grand Union. In 1975 she moved to Boulder, CO to design the Dance/Movement Studies Program at Naropa University, then serve as President (1985-1993). She retired in 2015. Her book, This Very Moment ~ teaching thinking dancing, was published by Naropa University Press in 2015.

Yvonne Rainer, a founder of the Judson Dance Theater (1962), danced and choreographed for fifteen years before becoming a maker of seven experimental films. She returned to dance in 2000 and has made ten dances since. Her publications include the memoir, “Feelings Are Facts: a Life” (2006), among others. A selection of her poetry was published in 2011 by Paul Chan’s Badlands Unlimited. She is a recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships, a MacArthur Fellowship, a U.S.A. Fellowship, and a Yoko Ono Courage Award.

Wendy Perron teaches dance history at Juilliard and a graduate seminar at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. As a dancer/choreographer in the 1970s–1990s, she performed at Danspace, Lincoln Center Festival, The Joyce, and other venues. A former editor in chief of Dance Magazine, she published a selection of her writing in Through the Eyes of a Dancer. Her new book, The Grand Union: Accidental Anarchists of Downtown Dance, 1970–1976, was just published by Wesleyan University Press.

Conversations Without Walls: Barbara Dilley & Yvonne Rainer with Wendy Perron | streaming: Saturday, November 21, 12pm ET | RSVP

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