Judson Dance Theater

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Judson Dance Theater was an informal group of dancers who performed at the Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, Manhattan New York City between 1962 and 1964. It grew out of a dance composition class taught by Robert Dunn, a musician who had studied with John Cage. The artists involved were avant garde experimentalists who rejected the confines of Modern dance practice and theory, inventing as they did the precepts of Postmodern dance. What they developed became the preface to what would happen in modern dance for years to come.

The first Judson concert took place on July 6, 1962, with works created by Steve Paxton, Fred Herko, David Gordon, Alex and Deborah Hay, Yvonne Rainer, Elaine Summers, William Davis, and Ruth Emerson. The group met weekly to perform and receive critique. Judson Dance Theater produced twenty concerts in dance all together.

It was a place for collaboration between artists in various fields such as, dancers, writers, filmmakers, composers, etc. There was an atmosphere of diversity and freedom. And as a collaborative effort the group was constantly redefining itself. Everyday movements became inspiration for material in many of the pieces created. Some of the Judson Dance Theater artists used untrained performers and dancers to convey a freshness and natural approach to movement. Yvonne Rainer's 'No Manifesto' - (to which she rejects any confines to technique, thrill, spectacle, glamour, or assumed space), was a way to state what the Judson Dance Theater wanted; a way to convey the beauty of ordinary movement and the pureness of dance/performance art.


Developments in dance practice that can be traced back to the Judson Dance Theater include:


Some of the notable seminal dance artists, musicians and visual artists who were part of the Judson Dance Theater include:

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