Lucinda Childs: In Her Own Words

An icon of postmodern dance, choreographer Lucinda Childs spoke to a packed crowd at Reid Hall on Oct. 28. Her third appearance here as a guest of The Arts Arena, Childs reflected on her early career, her artistic partnerships with composers like Philipp Glass and John Adams, and discussed the revival of her work, Available Light, which will be performed in Paris this week as part of the Festival d’Automne.

October 30, 2015

Childs recounted her formative experience at the Judson Dance Theater and her early silent ballets in which there was no music, and dancers kept time and rhythm through the “connectedness of their bodies” and the sound of each dancer’s footsteps. 

Scenes from the choreographer’s seminal minimalist work, Dance, were projected: dancers twirled hypnotically across the stage accompanied by the ghosts of the original dancers, among them Childs herself, projected on transparent gauze blinds. The piece is accompanied by the equally trance-inducing music of Philipp Glass, the first composer with whom Childs had ever worked.

The choreographer explained her technique for delineating patterns in movement – a technique inspired by a biography of Martha Graham that contained a visual diagram of the pattern made by the dancer’s steps “as if she had danced through white paint and each of her steps was traced into a pattern on a grid.”

This two-dimensional representation of a dancer’s steps inspired Childs’s own choreographical ‘scores’ that she creates using an overhead projector to draw the patterns of the dance and “the path into space” of the dancers’ bodies.

Childs is the fourth speaker invited to speak at Reid Hall by The Arts Arena this semester. The series continues with conversations with renowned war correspondent Janine di Giovanni and visual artist Martha Fiennes.