Dance

2014
Simone Forti: An Interview

The later 1950s and early 1960s saw the development and proliferation of radically new forms of dance driven by a desire to understand the essentiality of movement divorced from traditional, balletic and modern syntaxes. At the forefront of this new wave of performance was Simone Forti, an artist with a hand in both improvisational techniques and choreographed task-maneuvers. This interview details her exploration of each – with a particular focus on her earliest investigations into movement, owing to time spent under the study of Anna Halprin.

1983
Tom Rubnitz, From the Files of the Pyramid Cocktail Lounge

From The Files of the Pyramid Cocktail Lounge is a series of video clips taken at the Pyramid Club, a seminal location for the East Village drag scene in the midst of the club's most influential years. While rummaging through a file cabinet full of event fliers from the Pyramid Club, an office worker in drag guides the viewer through video documentation of past performances at the club.

2007
A Heretic's Primer on Love & Exertion

Identically dressed, and with sibling-like resemblance, performance artists Trevor Martin and Kym Olsen shift between spoken word and athletic dance choreography in a collection of 29 scenes. Set in various locations--including a gymnasium, an abandoned hospital, and a trailer park circus--Martin and Olsen slip between a ventriloquist and his dummy, a seducer and his surrogate, a doctor and his patient, and synchronized dance partners. The film examines a complex social psychology--questioning the colonization of the human body for various political, medical and religious agendas.

2008
In the Sun Room

"A chamber drama set in the confines of an apartment’s sun room, this video further explores visual themes and obsessions found in my earlier works and adds in a few new ones for good measure. Earlier motifs seen here are lightbulbs in pendulum movement, tabletop antics with simple household objects, Christo-like fleshy textures, sketchbook pages torn from their binders, book pages, bookshelves, and flowers. I play a vaguely Walter Mitty-ish figure, who imagines himself as a conductor, as Orpheus, and as conflicted characters in a Greta Garbo movie.

2010
Deborah Stratman, Kuyenda N'kubvina (Walking is Dancing)

Kuyenda N’kubvina looks at how thought and culture propagate in the slender nation of Malawi. Weaving our way through video halls, book stores, dance floors and radio stations, in cities and small villages, we meet Malawians who traffic in ideas, reflecting the rhythms of Malawian contemporary life. The video was instigated by the filmmaker’s relative ignorance about the people and culture of southeast Africa, and accompanies her as she seeks out individuals and infrastructures that channel and articulate Malawian identity.

2003
The Last Pony

Ponies discover an equine Shangri-La. The audience is introduced to a classic dance step. Chubby Checker provides the musical accompaniment.

This title is also available on Ben Coonley: Post Pony Trilogy.

1978
Merce by Merce by Paik

Merce by Merce by Paik is a two-part tribute to choreographer Merce Cunningham and artist Marcel Duchamp. The first section, “Blue Studio: Five Segments,” is an innovative work of video-dance produced by Merce Cunningham and videomaker Charles Atlas. Cunningham choreographed the dance specifically for the two-dimensional video monitor screen. Atlas uses a variety of video imaging effects, including chromakey, to electronically transport Cunningham’s studio performance into a series of outdoor landscapes. The audio track includes the voices of John Cage and Jasper Johns.

2002
One Trick Pony

Introduces the audience to the rockin' talkin' pony, who provides musical accompaniment for a series of Texas country-dance lessons.

This title is also available on Ben Coonley: Trick Pony Trilogy.

2006
Only Just Begun

Mr. Thomas is in the back garden, performing his new moves in the glorious sunlight, making things happen. Somewhere between ritual, a white suburban war dance and 1970's "keep fit" exercise to lovely music, Mr. Thomas tries to coordinate with the Black Blob, that persistently undermines the nature of his representational space...

And the song goes:

We've only just begun to live

White lace and promises

A kiss for luck and we're on our way...

1976
Out of the Body Travel

A "young woman who finds herself surrounded by the relics of Western culture" is the subject of Richard Foreman's formal tableaux. The narration centers on a young woman's struggle to find a relation between her body and her self as mediated by language. The text is a poetry of formal relations that carries personal and historical implications, including the desires of the woman paradoxically voiced by a male narrator. The title suggests the vivid virtuality of dreaming; scenes repeatedly refer to both reading and sleeping.

2005
Pas (de deux): A sofa piece

Unlike other sectors of Romanian civil society who gained status after December 1989, the gay community struggled for many more years with a legal ban imposed by a conservative political class subservient to the Orthodox Church. Against this background, I planned to make a tactical video whose leitmotif was a pas de deux performed by two male dancers.

2001
PAS DE DEUX DE DEUX

The orchestra begins and a male and female dancer move from opposite sides of the stage. The dancers embrace and begin the White Swan pas de deux from the ballet Swan Lake. However this is not the ballet as it is normally performed. The choreography has been re-staged so that in every single frame the two original dancers have been replaced by the bodies of four new dancers. The movement remains continuous, the characteristics of the dancers’ movements and gestures the same, but in each frame a different person occupies the dancers’ body spaces.

1983
Plastic Rap with Frieda

In this early Tom Rubnitz, Barbara Lipp and Tom Koken collaboration, "Frieda" performs her rap song with a bevy of dolls as back-up singers and dancers. Features rock-bottom production values and song lyrics by Barbara Lipp and Tom Koken.

1988
Portrait of Christophe In Mind

This lyrical piece celebrates the male body simply and elegantly. Its subject, Christophe, is exquisitely portrayed by the sepia-toned balletic video. Three men dressed in overcoats dance in and out of the frame in front of a mostly stationary camera. Occasionally they open or partially remove the overcoats to display beautifully sculpted male bodies.

2002
Rainer Variations

"In the spring of 2002 I handed over to Charles Atlas a collection of films and videotapes in various formats that I had been accumulating with an eye to his editing them into what I call a "faux Rainer portrait" (though he may well call the final product something else).