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performance

Deborah Hay

Deborah Hay, If I Sing to You, 2008. Rehearsal view, Huis aan de Werf, Utrecht, the Netherlands, April 15, 2008. From left: Juliette Mapp, Amelia Reeber, Michelle Boulé, and Jeanine Durning. Photo: Anna van Kooij for Springdance.

THE AMERICAN CHOREOGRAPHER Deborah Hay has minimal interest in movement. She’ll tell you herself: She is not interested in athletic movement, or in abstract movement, or in movement that comes naturally. After nearly fifty years of experimentation—beginning as a dancer for Merce Cunningham and as a member of Judson Dance Theater in the 1960s—Hay has arrived at an understanding of dance that relies not on pedestrian tasks or set phrases but rather on radical shifts of awareness.

Hay’s approach elicits remarkable performances in which movement is akin to a side effect—as in If I Sing to You, 2008, which had its US premiere this past November at the Baryshnikov Arts Center as part of Performa 09 in New York. Six women wiggled, loped, and hesitated on a bare stage. They shifted into tight line formations like iron filaments drawn by a magnet, then scattered out across

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