Free exhibition explores how each woman shaped postmodern dance and the art world

April 19, 2017 – NEW YORK, NY - In August 1960, the choreographer Anna Halprin taught an experimental workshop attended by Simone Forti and Yvonne Rainer on her dance deck on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais, north of San Francisco. Within two years, Forti’s conceptually forceful dance constructions premiered in Yoko Ono’s loft and Rainer cofounded the ground-breaking Judson Dance Theater in New York. Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955-1972, a new exhibition opening at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center on May 24, explores how Halprin and subsequently, Forti and Rainer opened the way to a radicalized vision for the body in dance and the visual arts that continues to influence choreographers and visual artists globally. The free exhibition is on display in the Library’s Vincent Astor Gallery through September 16, 2017.

Anna Halprin’s role in the development of postmodern dance is well-known in California, but less recognized in the New York dance world. The exhibition seeks to rebalance this perception, and focuses on the cross-pollination in the three women’s careers and the dance and art communities more broadly. Halprin, who pioneered task-based improvisation, had a strong influence on key figures in postmodern dance including Forti and Rainer, as well as Trisha Brown, Meredith Monk and many others: Ideas about improvisation, pedestrian movement, the ordinary body in public places, vocalization, the use of props, and dance as an act of citizenship can be traced back to her early work. Beginning at the same point in 1960, Halprin, Forti, and Rainer—all Californians with Jewish roots—opened the way to a radicalized vision for dance that manifested differently on the two coasts, during an intense period of little more than a decade.

Originated by the Art, Design & Architecture Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara, and co-curated by Ninotchka D. Bennahum (Professor of Theater and Dance, UCSB), Wendy Perron (author, Through the Eyes of a Dancer and former Editor-in-Chief, Dance Magazine) and Bruce Robertson (Professor of Art History and Director of the Art, Design and Architecture Museum, UCSB), Radical Bodiesconsists of more than 150 photographs, videos and original scores and drawings by Halprin, Forti and Rainer. Photographers include Imogen Cunningham, Peter Moore, George Brecht, and many of the photographs are drawn from the Jerome Robbins Dance Division’s collections.

As Bennahum notes: “Each of these female artists has engendered a radical, feminist approach to the dancing body as an act of ethical artistry and citizenship.”

For Perron, "Working on this project was a revelation not only of Anna Halprin's influence, but also of Simone Forti's role as a bridge between the two coasts."

“Anna, Simone, and Yvonne changed the way we think about dance and art in New York, California and far beyond either coast,” said Jacqueline Z. Davis, Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleischman Executive Director of The Library for the Performing Arts. “The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is delighted to present Radical Bodies and to celebrate the careers of these three remarkable women.”

A fully illustrated 192-page exhibition catalogue is available from University of California Press, with essays by Bennahum, Perron and Robertson, as well as brief memoirs by John Rockwell (former music and dance critic of The New York Times) and the composer Morton Subotnick, and poignant letters that Forti wrote to Halprin in 1960-61.

In addition to a variety of public programs related to the exhibition, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will also offer a robust educational program in collaboration with New York City public school dance teachers, dance students from Hunter College and dance students from the University of California, Santa Barbara.   

Radical Bodies Public Programs

Tuesday, May 25 @ 6 PM

Radical Dance Artists in the 60s and the 80s: A Conversation with Yvonne Rainer and Lucy Sexton

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

40 Lincoln Center Plaza

FREE – Advance registration recommended

To mark the opening of the exhibition, Yvonne Rainer and Lucy Sexton come to the Library to discuss their careers in dance. In the 1960s, Rainer was a leader in the dance avant-garde through the rule-breaking collaborative, Judson Dance Theater. In the 1980s and ‘90s, DANCENOISE, Lucy Sexton’s performance art duo with Anne Iobst, rocked the New York club scene with transgressive, socially conscious acts of precisely aimed mayhem. With the help of performance clips, archival display, and mutual curiosity, Rainer and Sexton will question each other about how their separate generations transformed the New York dance and performance scene.

Wednesday, May 31 @ 3 PM

Performance of Huddle and Slant Board

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

40 Lincoln Center Plaza


Two of Forti’s 1961 “dance constructions,” Huddle and Slant Board could be described as moving sculptures. Huddle involves six to nine people forming a mound over which each person climbs. Slant Board involves three people grappling with ropes on a 45-degree incline. These are seminal performance works that have been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art.

Wednesday, May 31 @ 7:30 PM

Radical Bodies: Works by Anna Halprin, Simone Forti, and Yvonne Rainer

Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse

695 Park Ave

FREE – Advance registration required

An evening of works by Anna Halprin, Simone Forti, and Yvonne Rainer performed by the UCSB Dance Company. The program, which commemorates 50 years since the legendary performance of Parades and Changes at Hunter, includes a new version of “The Paper Dance” from Halprin’s Parades and Changes, Chair Pillowby Yvonne Rainer, José Limón’s Isadora Dances, and guest artist Simone Forti. A post-performance panel moderated by Wendy Perron includes Forti as well as Charles Reinhart and Alice Teirstein, both of whom attended the famous 1967 performance.

Friday, June 2 @ 12 PM

Radical on Tape: Screening the Work of Anna Halprin

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

40 Lincoln Center Plaza


Exhibition co-curator Ninotchka D. Bennahum will host an afternoon of screenings, featuring three films by Anna Halprin: Parades & Changes (1966, 37 mins.); Breath Made Visible (2010, 82 mins.); and Ann, A Portrait(1971, 20 mins.)  

Saturday, June 3 @ 11 AM, 1 PM and 3 PM

Radical Thinking: Educational Experiences in the Vincent Astor Gallery

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

40 Lincoln Center Plaza


Join us for group orientations and discussions of Radical Bodies intended for high school students and adults. Staff educators will lead the tours at 11 AM and 3 PM. At 1 PM, Wendy Perron will lead the discussion, answer questions about these remarkable women, and give insights into the dance and art worlds of the 1960s.

Sunday, June 4 @ 6 PM

An Evening with Simone Forti, K. J. Holmes, and Daniel Lepkoff

Sundays on Broadway

537 Broadway


Simone Forti will dance a solo, to be followed by her close associates K.J. Holmes and Daniel Lepkoff. Wendy Perron moderates a discussion about Forti’s influence.

June 22-July 1


Danspace Project

St. Mark’s Church

131 East 10th St.


SlowDancing/TrioA is a new video installation by artist David Michalek, in collaboration with choreographer Yvonne Rainer. It seeks to create an unusual motion picture record of Rainer’s iconic dance-work, Trio A (1966). Trio A has become an emblem of Rainer’s work of the 1960s, wherein she famously transformed the dancing body—stripped it of special techniques and star status, traded its costumes and leotards for T-shirts and sneakers. Trio A presents a steady stream of unique motions performed without a pause. To create SlowDancing/TrioA, the roughly five-minute dance has been divided into 46 seven-second sections. Yvonne Rainer and Raindears company member Pat Catterson, taught a diverse cast 46 dancers to perform the parts in sequence on a specially-constructed set designed for high-speed, high-definition filming. The end result, to be screened inside of Danspace Project’s sanctuary, will feature a single film that shows the whole of Trio A, from start to finish, performed by 46 different people, spanning 90 minutes or more.

Thursday, June 29 @ 6 PM

Live Taping of Randy Cohen’s Person Place Thing with Yvonne Rainer

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

40 Lincoln Center Plaza

FREE – Advance registration recommended

Person Place Thing is an interview show on the WAMC network hosted by Randy Cohen based on this idea: that people are particularly engaging when they speak not directly about themselves but about something they care about. Tonight’s guest is Yvonne Rainer.

Radical Bodies is organized by the Art, Design & Architecture Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc., the Ceil and Michael Pulitzer Foundation, the Metabolic Studio, Jody and John Arnhold, Victoria Hendler and Eva and Yoel Haller.

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts gratefully acknowledges the leadership support of Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman. Additional support for exhibitions has been provided by Judy R. and Alfred A. Rosenberg and the Miriam and Harold Steinberg Foundation.

Press Contact: Sara Beth Joren,

About The New York Public Library For The Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts houses one of the world’s most extensive combinations of circulating, reference, and rare archival collections in its field. These materials are available free of charge, along with a wide range of special programs, including exhibitions, seminars, and performances. An essential resource for everyone with an interest in the arts — whether professional or amateur — the Library is known particularly for its prodigious collections of non-book materials such as historic recordings, videotapes, autograph manuscripts, correspondence, sheet music, stage designs, press clippings, programs, posters and photographs. The Library is part of The New York Public Library system, which has 90 locations in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island, and is a lead provider of free education for all.