PRINT May 1973

Meredith Monk: An Introduction

TO SAY THAT MEREDITH MONK is a dancer, musician, singer, composer, director, and film maker is to say both a great deal and a little: Her particular art form defies these professional ascriptions and eludes classification. Her performances—what she refers to as “composite theater” and “nonverbal opera”—integrate elements of theater, dance, film, music, singing, and mime according to carefully conceived compositions. They juxtapose reality with a personal, surreal imagery—real space and time in terms of specific sites, props, dimensions with a psychic space or fantasyland undemarcated except by the limits of the mind.

Monk has been concerned with the nature of the audience’s visual experience since 1964 when she abandoned the concept of dance as pure movement, and the constraints of her classical ballet training. Having found pure movement “too abstracted and distilled from reality,” she

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