RoseLee Goldberg

  • Molissa Fenley

    Molissa Fenley’s 1993 trilogy of intensely rich works placed new demands on both dancer and viewer. Elaborating on one of the ongoing themes of her work—that of dance as sculpture—Fenley devoted an entire evening to the relationship between her own body shapes and the objects and spaces of the three sculptors with whom she collaborated. Tatsuo Miyajima, Richard Long, and Richard Serra each designed a stage with distinctive spatial configurations that reflected a particular esthetic to which Fenley responded in kind. Despite the consistency of the pieces’ collective vocabulary of movement, the

  • Laurie Carlos

    Notably small in scale, Laurie Carlos’ theater drew its listeners into a storyteller’s circle, up close, within touching distance of the players. Each character was written and portrayed as if it were a “found” miniature in an air-tight Joseph Cornell box: given just enough detail to suggest the authenticity of autobiography.

    In White Chocolate for my Father, created in collaboration with Urban Bush Women’s artistic director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and musician Don Meissner, Carlos directed seven women (including herself) in an exuberant and fast paced 80-minute work. Close to caricature, each of

  • Meredith Monk

    Bold and colorful, Meredith Monk’s ATLAS: an opera in three parts celebrates one artist’s esthetic persona and moral value system with a compendium of her signature effects: throaty, trilling vocals; performers making varied shapes on a large landscape of a stage with their flat-footed swaying; a visual narrative carried by an overriding sense of childlike wonder. The opera begins quietly, even modestly, in a domestic setting: a ponytailed teenager at home with her portly father and housewife mother. They perform on a ribbon of a stage bounded by a large wall that will soon be raised to liberate

  • Ron Vawter

    Throughout the ’80s, the likes of Spalding Gray, Eric Bogosian, Karen Finley, and Holly Hughes developed a genre now referred to as performance monologue. With his current work, Roy Cohn/Jack Smith, Ron Vawter joins this group. In retrospect, Jack Smith (1932–89) can be viewed as the progenitor of these contemporary monologuists, with their emphasis on the performer’s own writings, and on personal or larger cultural references that provoke rather than amuse their audiences.

    Smith’s hesitant monologues, delivered from self-made sets, were as seemingly haphazard and individualistic as a heap of

  • Molissa Fenley

    Viewers of dance are usually part of a collective experience. Together they watch as social relationships evolve on stage, and they relate predominantly to individual dancers, as points in the fine spatial filigree that is the choreographer’s design. In Molissa Fenley’s three powerful solos—Inner Enchantments, 1991, Threshold, 1992, and Place, 1992—however, viewers must concentrate on each separate movement; the experience is as much a test of short-term memory and the mind’s ability to retain a series of afterimages as it is about responding, one-on-one, to the visceral and emotional presence

  • Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker

    Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and Rosas Dance Company came to New York to present their latest work, Stella, 1990, with trunks full of vintage clothing, much of which was draped over wooden scaffolding across the back of The Kitchen’s dance floor, so that front stage looked like backstage. Before opening night, the costumes of the five dancers were stolen, and an afternoon’s shopping spree yielded replacements five black suits that were short-skirted, tight-waisted, sexy, and very New York.

    This company of Europeans in Manhattan’s native dress also wore signature high heels, the kind that Barbie (

  • Gilbert & George

    Nothing could have better captured the spirit of more than two decades of Gilbert & George’s work than this recreation of The Singing Sculpture. The pair stood together on the plain table familiar from photographs, faces and hands gilded and painted, in their identical tweed suits, swaying and moving in slow motion circles to Flanagan and Allen’s depression-era song of homelessness, “Underneath the Arches,” just as they did in the same gallery space in September 1971. At the end of each run-through, they took turns stepping off the table to rewind the low-tech tape recorder perched on a pedestal,

  • Urban Bush Women

    THERE REALLY IS SUCH a thing as muscle memory, and if you grew up in Africa you would know what I mean. There are gestures, facial expressions, and a way of moving the body—dancing flat-footed, knees bent, hands moving around the face, with raised elbows drawing shapes in the air—that you see in African-Americans and that exactly mirror gestures found in Africa. It’s as though this body language had survived two hundred years of separation from its native soil expressly to prove the Africanness of African-Americans. It is just this point that historians, anthropologists, and artists in the ’90s

  • Pina Bausch/Tanztheater Wuppertal

    Set deep into the earth like hundreds of upside-down ziggurats, the breathtaking excavations at Trapani near Palermo were created by years and years of brick cutters excavating large golden blocks from its quarries. Indeed, when the cinder-block wall that entirely closed off the stage of the opera house in Pina Bausch’s Palermo, Palermo, 1990, fell backward in a cascade of masonry and dust, that town deep in the Mediterranean came back to me. Glorious, dark, and dappled with light that pours through rambling greenery, every piazza is a backdrop for the daily theater of Italian life. Church bells

  • Richard Foreman

    In Richard Foreman’s latest production, Eddie Goes to Poetry City, 1991, the protagonist takes off on a metaphorical roller-coaster ride to a mythical destination (where “poetry melts language”), with the audience strapped in tightly behind him. On the way all kinds of words, women, and objects—not to mention buckets full of existential angst—are thrown across his path. The moment the signal is given to start the action, the audience begins to count up the objects that characteristically litter the Foreman stage, to mark off, like a silent kitchen timer, how much longer you have to go to the

  • John Kelly

    Despite its somewhat lighthearted title, John Kelly’s newest work, Maybe It’s Cold Outside, 1991, was blacker than black. Consisting of an almost funerary series of dreamlike tableaux, the work constituted a sustained meditation on the terror of approaching death. That longtime company member John Beal died shortly before the opening of this production added to the poignancy of the evening.

    Kelly’s five-member ensemble unraveled a series of childhood memories in mime and slow-motion dance. In one vignette two boys mimed the familiar initiation ritual of pressing cut fingers together to become

  • Jane Goldberg

    In Topical Tap/Rhythm and Schmooze, 1990, Jane Goldberg taps out the history of tap dancing, talking all the while of her 17-year love affair with a medium that carries the sound of its own making with every expertly placed ball, heel, and toe. Reminding us too of how, in the early ’80s, she contributed to a tap revival, Goldberg confesses to her pains in attempting to make a career out of a form inextricably associated with poverty and repression, and rarely represented by more than one media figure at a time—Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Gregory Hines. Not surprisingly, she goes for comedy to