Research Catalog

Interview with Valda Setterfield.

Title
Interview with Valda Setterfield. June 4 and 11, 2012.
Author
Setterfield, Valda
Publication
2012

Available Online

Link to excerpt from Interview with Valda Setterfield, June 4 and 11, 2012 on the Dance Oral History Channel.

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StatusVol/DateFormatAccessCall NumberItem Location
Part 1AudioSupervised use *MGZMT 3-2920 Part 1Performing Arts Research Collections - Dance
Part 2AudioSupervised use *MGZMT 3-2920 Part 2Performing Arts Research Collections - Dance
disc 1AudioUse in library *MGZTL 4-2920 disc 1Performing Arts Research Collections - Dance
disc 2AudioUse in library *MGZTL 4-2920 disc 2Performing Arts Research Collections - Dance
disc 3AudioUse in library *MGZTL 4-2920 disc 3Performing Arts Research Collections - Dance
disc 4AudioUse in library *MGZTL 4-2920 disc 4Performing Arts Research Collections - Dance

Details

Additional Authors
Jowitt, Deborah
Description
4 compact discs (approximately three hours and 24 minutes ) : digital; 4 3/4 in. +
Alternative Title
  • Dance Oral History Project.
  • Dance Audio Archive.
Subjects
Note
  • Interview with Valda Setterfield conducted by Deborah Jowitt on June 4 and June 11, 2012 at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in New York City as part of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division's Oral History Project.
  • For transcript see: *MGZMT 3-2920.
  • Title supplied by cataloger.
Access (note)
  • Transcripts may not be photographed or reproduced without permission.
Funding (note)
  • This interview was made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The support of the National Endowment for the Arts is also gratefully acknowledged.
Call Number
*MGZTL 4-2920
OCLC
  • 892516720
  • 892516720
Author
Setterfield, Valda, interviewee.
Title
Interview with Valda Setterfield. June 4 and 11, 2012.
Production
2012
Type of Content
text
spoken word
Type of Medium
unmediated
audio
Type of Carrier
audio disc
volume
Event
Recorded by Deborah Jowitt 2012, June 4 and 11 New York, N.Y.
Summary
Disc 1, approximately 52 minutes, June 4, 2012. Valda Setterfield speaks with Deborah Jowitt about her childhood dance training in Britain during and after World War II; ballet classes with Marie Rambert at the Rambert School, including meeting Antony Tudor there; studying mime with Tamara Karsavina; the difficulties of being a tall ballet student; studying ballet with Audrey De Vos; seeing ballet stars perform at Covent Garden and attending Rambert's technique class; being a "super" [supernumerary] in the London Festival Ballet, including her memories of Alexandra Danilova; more on her difficulties with height and auditioning for the corps de ballet; briefly, her experiences in the chorus of the musical revue Buono notte Bettina; meeting David Vaughan while taking classes together with De Vos; Vaughan's encouraging Setterfield to dance in the United States; seeing the José Limón Dance Company in London; her subsequent apprenticeship in New York with the Company as Pauline Lawrence's costume assistant; Vaughan's assistance to her when she first moved to New York; taking classes with José Limón at the Dance Center on 49th street in New York, and other choreographers who taught there; briefly, rehearsing and performing for Jimmy [James] Waring; her first impressions of Merce Cunningham while observing his technique class; studying with Cunningham and leaving the Limón scholarship; at the same time, studying with Antony Tudor at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet; briefly, performing in Katherine Litz's Dracula; being an extra for the Bolshoi Ballet performances at the Metropolitan Opera House during the Cold War era.
Disc 2, approximately 43 minutes, June 4, 2012. Valda Setterfield speaks with Deborah Jowitt about her experiences as an understudy with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in the summer of 1958 at the American Dance Festival, including her interactions with Robert Rauschenberg, the costume designer for Summerspace and Antic meet; very briefly, her future husband and collaborator David Gordon, including an anecdote about him in Louis Horst's composition class; being a "super" with Saddler's Wells Ballet, including memories of Margot Fonteyn and Frederick Ashton; the birth of her son Ain [Gordon] and traveling with Ain, as a child, to Europe for company tours; an anecdote about rehearsing for Summerspace; her relationship with Cunningham, including how he helped her develop as a dancer; briefly, Cunningham's choreographic process, especially in the works Aeon and Walkaround time; very briefly, beginning to perform in Gordon's works in the early 1970s, including Chair [dance], Random breakfast, Mama goes where poppa goes, and Dancing ladies; brief anecdote on her striptease part in Random breakfast; briefly, The matter, an early iteration of Gordon's work on Eadweard Muybridge; speaking in Yvonne Rainer's works, including her film Kristina talking pictures; Setterfield's 1974 car accident as a turning point in her career and life; the effects of the concussion she received due to the accident, including her loss of memory and the decision to leave the [Merce] Cunningham [Dance] Company; the rehearsal process for Gordon's work, Chair [dance]; the use of unison and precision in Chair, and its inclusion in The Dance in America film: Beyond the Mainstream.
Disc 3, approximately one hour and five minutes, June 11, 2012. Valda Setterfield speaks with Deborah Jowitt about being a mother and taking her young child, Ain Gordon, with her to rehearsals and on tour, both with Merce Cunningham and with David Gordon; how Ain responded to these experiences and especially to the artists he met, including John Cage; an anecdote about Edwin Denby and how the pool scene in The photographer: far from the truth reminded her of him; more on The photographer, including the costume designer Santo Loquasto's contributions to the production; more on The matter, including a brief anecdote about the first rehearsal and Gordon's interest in using nudity; briefly, the continual use of Gordon's taped and live directions to Setterfield in Gordon's works over the years, including in The beginning of the end of the ... [2012]; more on how Gordon and Setterfield's personal relationship is revealed in their creative works, including in the duet, Close up; her personal and artistic roles in Gordon's company's works; the differences between Cunningham's and Gordon's artistic processes; speaking parts in Gordon's works, especially in The mysteries and whats so funny; studying acting; Gordon's works for American Ballet Theatre, Field, chair and mountain, and Murder, and meeting Mikhail Baryshnikov; also rehearsing with Richard Forman; briefly, rehearsing the duet with Baryshnikov that was aired on Dance in America; observing classes at American Ballet Theatre , including those thought by Stanley Williams and Alexandra Danilova; an anecdote about behaving like a ballerina; making the film Made in the USA; dancing with Gus Solomon's repertory company Paradigm, and meeting the other dancers in the company, including Carmen De Lavallade; briefly, other choreographers who worked with Paradigm, including Richard Move, Larry Keigwin and Keith Sabado; working with Ain Gordon, as well as, briefly, collaborative pieces made by Ain and David Gordon, including The first picture show and The family business; Ain's interest in working with deaf actors and a brief anecdote about a touring experience with them.
Disc 4, approximately 43 minutes, June 11, 2012. Valda Setterfield continues to speak with Deborah Jowitt about her enjoyment of performing in Gordon's Random breakfast; her interest in the precise movement sequence and mental focus in Gordon's work Times four [Jowitt briefly lists other works by Gordon]; Setterfield's enjoyment of Dorothy and Eileen, and her duet partner in it, Margaret Hoeffel; speaking about their mothers in Dorothy and Eileen and a version of it that was filmed for television [Jowitt briefly lists more works by Gordon]; playing Marcel Duchamp in The mysteries and what's so funny, and an anecdote about Duchamp's stepson's reaction to her performance; meeting members of Duchamp's family as research for her role, and Michael Howard's advice to her on acting [Jowitt briefly lists recent works by Gordon]; her personal approach to her chorus role in Dancing Henry five including how the part was informed by her beliefs on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; the current performances of The beginning of the end of...; playing the role of Bertolt Brecht in Uncivil wars: moving w/ Brecht & Eisler; spending time in Berlin to work on a Boris Charmatz project, Cinquante ans de danse (Fifty years of dance); the public's reception of Cinquante ans de danse, and the use of historical photographs to generate material in the work; visiting the Brecht theater and house in Berlin as research for Uncivil wars; maintaining her health and body through the years, especially through daily Qigong, and her ongoing study of Alexander Technique with June Eikman and Jessica Wolf; the impact of 9/11 [September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks] on attitudes toward her life and work; her appreciation of how not being an ideal ballet dancer led to many of her life experiences.
Funding
This interview was made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The support of the National Endowment for the Arts is also gratefully acknowledged.
Restricted Access
Transcripts may not be photographed or reproduced without permission.
Connect to:
Added Author
Jowitt, Deborah, interviewer.
Added Title
Dance Oral History Project.
Dance Audio Archive.
Research Call Number
*MGZTL 4-2920
*MGZMT 3-2920
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