MoMA’s exhibition Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done marks a major expansion in the recognition of postmodern dance history. The museum has been steadily collecting and presenting work from the Judson period of the early 1960s, and with this exhibition, rallies and assembles the dances, films, and ephemera in one place. From September to February, a performance program features the work of Judson choreographers Yvonne Rainer, Deborah Hay, David Gordon, Lucinda Childs, Steve Paxton, and Trisha Brown.
For the downtown dance community, the MoMA show might induce a bit of Judson fatigue. Why do we keep returning to these artists, this moment in history? For the broader audience, however, the exhibition is an entrée, in the form of an accessible, tangible document, to a fleeting yet highly influential moment of avant-garde experimentation. This Rail Dance Section is devoted to the MoMA show and the artists it presents. Our critical guides are the choreographer Trajal Harrell, Trisha Brown archivist Cori Olinghouse, writer/scholar Madison Mainwaring, writer/dancer Benedict Nguyen, and writer Mark Bloch.
Gillian Jakab is the dance editor of the Brooklyn Rail.