Lucinda Childs


// DE //

Dokumentation von Patrick Bensard, mit Ausschnitten aus: "Einstein on the Beach", "Dance nð 1-5", "White Raven", etc., mit Statements von Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, Susan Sontag, Robert Wilson, Merce Cunningham, Sol LeWitt, u.a.

// EN //

As a co-presentation with the Institute of Contemporary Art and International House Philly, Live Arts has organized a film series to showcase the work of Lucinda Childs and Philip Glass. The films provide insight into the creative processes, careers, and lives of these two influential artists. The series is being offered as part of our ongoing Festival Plus program in preparation for the performance of Lucinda Childs’ Dance in the Festival this September.

Lucinda Childs, a Patrick Bensard 2006 documentary about the postmodern choreographer, is an attempt to put four decades of dance in to roughly 50 or so minutes of film.

From the onset it is clear that Mr. Bensard, director of the Cinémathèque de la Danse in Paris, is one of the many true fans and admirers of Ms. Childs.

Childs began her career as a member of the Judson Church Group in New York in the 1960s, and her most famous choreographs reflect the strident modernism of that time. In 1976, Childs choreographed Robert Wilson’s seminal “opera”, Einstein on the Beach, with music by Philip Glass. This collaboration continued in 1979 with Dance, where Childs brought together Glass’s composition and video by artist Sol LeWitt. Dance is still considered one of the most beautiful pieces in modern dance, and it launched Childs to international fame.

On the European front Ms. Childs has enjoyed a completely different level of financial support, but more so admiration and even reverence as a “Grande Dame of American dance”. The same has not always held true here in the United States, where her work up until more recently has been rarely seen.

Ms. Childs ground-breaking choreography established her signature of severe minimalism.  At the time, Dance, was perceived by some as a sort of counter revolution against the Cunningham-Cage standard, in which dance and music were held as independent and unrelated elements.  Childs was in fact not revolting against the established Cunningham, with whom she had studied, but merely carving out her own path.

In France, this path led her to be widely recognized as a major talent of contemporary dance. Among her many awards, Lucinda Childs was appointed by the French Government to the rank of Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2004.

But back to our movie! All of this background sets the tone for what appears on camera. Even at the age of 68, Ms. Childs is striking on camera, perhaps even more so now than in the footage shown of her earlier years.  Mr. Bensard takes every opportunity for close-ups to portray her classic beauty,  from walks on the beach at Martha’s Vineyard, where she lives, to Ms. Childs discussing her career or simply rehearsing dancers. All of this adds to the viewer’s sense of being in the presence of someone quite extraordinary.

While Mr. Bensard does an incredible job of capturing Ms. Child’s persona, the film is somewhat selective in outlining her career, perhaps limited by time or a need to simplify for audiences. Nevertheless, her training at Sarah Lawrence College, the influence of Merce Cunningham, the early Judson years, her first work with Wilson – Einstein on the Beach in 1976, as well as her early pieces for her own dancers are covered. Missing were snippets of her later career including  insights in to the formation of Ms. Childs’  company.

It should be noted that since 1992, Ms. Childs has worked extensively in the domain of opera, in Luc Bondy’s production of Richard Strauss’s Salome, which she choreographed for the Salzburg Festival, and in 1999, which was revived for La Scala in Milan in March, 2007. In addition, she choreographed Bondy’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth for the Scottish Opera and in 1995, and Peter Stein’s De Nederlandse Opera’s production of Moise Et Aron. That same year Ms. Childs directed her first opera, Mozart’s Zaide, for La Monnaie in Brussels.

In watching Patrick Bensard’s documentary, capturing moments of Lucinda Childs in rehearsal with Mikhail Baryshnikov, and the Ballet de L’Opéra du Rhin in New York, London, and Paris;  not to mention the gamut of interviews with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Philip Glass, Anna Kisselgoff, Yvonne Rainer, Susan Sontag, and Robert Wilson, one is left simply wanting to know and see even more.  Mr. Bensard has hinted at the possibility of a sequel.

- Steven Weisz for The Dance Journal -

Dance excerpts:

Chacony / rehearsed by the White Oak Dance Project --
Largo / rehearsed by Mikhail Baryshynikov --
Carnation / performed by Lucinda Childs --
Calico mingling / performed by Childs and Susan Brody, Nancy Fuller, and Judy Padow --
Einstein on the beach / performed by Childs and others --
Dance / performed by Lucinda Childs and dancers of the Ballet de l'Opera de Lyons --
Video 50 / performed by Childs --
La maladie de la mort / performed by Childs --
Chamber symphony / performed by members of Ballet de l'Opera de Lyons --
White raven / rehearsed by Childs.

Produced by Lieurac Productions, France, in 2006.

ZE vorhanden.

Jean-Claude Ducouret, u.a.
52 min