Trio A

Yvonne Rainer

1978 | 00:10:30 | United States | English | B&W | Silent | 4:3 | Film

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Dance, Documentary, Experimental Film

I worked on Trio A alone for six months in 1965. The dance consisted initially of a 5-minute sequence of movement that would eventually be presented as The Mind is a Muscle, Part I at Judson Church on January 10, 1966. There it was performed by me, David Gordon, and Steve Paxton simultaneously but not in unison. In an interim version of The Mind is a Muscle (Judson Church, May 22, 1966), it was performed by William Davis, David Gordon, and Steve Paxton. In the final section, called Lecture, Peter Saul executed a balletic solo version, i.e. with pirouettes and jumps. In the final version (Anderson Theater, April 11, 1968), Trio A was performed by me in tap shoes in its original version at the end of the evening, while Paxton, Gordon, and Davis performed it as a trio at the beginning.

The individual sequences last from 4 1/2 to 5 minutes, depending on each performer’s physical inclination. Two primary characteristics of the dance are its unmodulated continuity and its imperative involving the gaze. The eyes are always averted from direct confrontation with the audience via independent movement of the head or closure of the eyes or simple casting down of the gaze.

Since its completion Trio A has undergone many incarnations. In 1967 I performed it solo as a Convalescent Dance (Angry Arts Week, Hunter Playhouse); in 1968 Frances Brooks, the first of many untrained dancers who have learned it, performed it during a lecture-demonstration at the NYC Library of Performing Arts; in 1969 it was performed by a half-dozen dancers to the Chambers Brothers’ In the Midnight Hour on the stage of the Billy Rose Theater in NYC. At the Connecticut College American Dance Festival of 1969, fifty students who had been taught Trio A by members of the group with whom I was in residence there, performed it for over an hour in a large studio for an audience that was free to roam to other events in the same building.

In 1970 I and some members of the Grand Union -- Lincoln Scott, Steve Paxton, David Gordon, Nancy Green, and Barbara Dilley -- performed it in the nude at Judson Church with five-foot American flags tied around our necks during the opening of the People’s Flag Show (organized by Jon Hendricks, Faith Ringgold, and Jean Toche as a protest against the arrest of various people accused of desecrating" the American flag, including gallery owner Stephen Radich, who had shown the "flag-defiling" work of sculptor Mark Morrel in 1967 and whose case traveled all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was thrown out on a technicality).

Around 1970 Michael Fajans, who had learned Trio A from Barbara Dilley, taught it to 50 students at Antioch College who performed it on a large stage to In the Midnight Hour. In 1971 those members of the fledgling Grand Union who knew Trio A performed the nude/flag version at New York University’s Loeb Student Center during the last throes of my Continuous Project/Altered Daily (the dance which, begun in 1969, gradually "atomized" into improvisatory programs by the collective Grand Union). It was here that Pat Catterson, who had learned Trio A from Becky Arnold and Barbara Dilley, joined us, performing it in reverse; shortly thereafter she again performed it in reverse (now fully clothed) during her own evening of work at Merce Cunningham’s studio; later that year she and a group of her students performed it on the sidewalk outside my hospital window.

In 1972 Steve Paxton performed Trio A for one hour at L’Attico Gallery in Rome. In 1973 I incorporated it into the narrative of my multi-media This is the story of a woman who. . . In 1978, five years after I had stopped performing, I performed it in Merce Cunningham’s studio for a 16mm film shoot (produced by Sally Banes). In 1979 the PBS TV series Dance in America produced a version with Sarah Rudner of the Twyla Tharp Co., Bart Cook of the NYC Ballet, and untrained dancer ---- Frank Conversano; in 1980 I taught it to a group of French ballet and modern dancers in a workshop in the south of France (Fetes Musicales de la Sainte-Baume); in 1981 during a Judson Dance Theater revival at St. Mark’s Church produced by Wendy Perron, I performed it in a state of almost crippling adrenaline poisoning (otherwise known as extreme stage-fright).

The life of Trio A for the next eleven years eludes me. In 1992 I taught it to Clarinda MacLow, who performed it in the Serious Fun Festival at Lincoln Center; she in turn taught it to Jean Guizerix, formerly of the Paris Opera Ballet, who danced it during the 1996 Montpelier Dance Festival and later in Paris on a program organized by the dance group Quatuor Albrecht Knust.

In August 1997, Clarinda, I, and several students to whom she had taught it, danced Trio A at the Talking Dancing Conference in Stockholm (I introduced my "interpretation" as the "geriatric version").

On April 22 and 23, 1999, twelve dancers performed Trio A -- six on each of two nights -- nude with U.S. flags tied around their necks at Judson Church for a benefit to raise money to pay for a sprung wood floor in the Meeting Room. The dance had been taught by Clarinda MacLow and Y.R.

On October 4, 1999, Trio A was performed at Judson Church by Pat Catterson, Y.R., Douglas Dunn, Steve Paxton, and Colin Beatty as Trio A Pressured. Pat Catterson danced it backwards; Rainer, Dunn, and Paxton as a trio; Y.R. and Beatty as a duet in which his movements were predicated on keeping her face in view; Catterson and Y.R. as a duet accompanied by The Chambers Brothers’ In the Midnight Hour.

On August 3, 2000, Trio A Pressured #3 was performed at the McCarter Theater, Princeton University, by Rachel Aedo, Emily Coates, Michael Lomeka, Rosalynde LeBlanc, and Emmanuelle Phuon of the White Oak Dance Project as part of the program PAST/forward. There followed a national tour of this program, culminating at the Brooklyn Academy of Music June 5 to 9, 2001. In the fall of 2002 Trio A Pressured #3 was included in a White Oak tour of European cities.

In Charles Atlas’s video montage, Rainer Variations, (2002) I attempted to teach Trio A to Richard Move’s "Martha Graham" without much success. -Yvonne Rainer

This title is also available on A Woman Who...: Selected Works of Yvonne Rainer.

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Exhibitions + Festivals

Women Make Waves Film Festival, 2006 

Dia: Beacon, Yvonne Rainer, October 2011/February 2012/May 2012

Centro Cultural Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz, re.act.feminism #2, October 6 2011-September 2013