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Yvonne Rainer

Steve Paxton, Afternoon (a forest concert), 1963. Performance view, Billy Klüver’s property, Berkeley Heights, NJ, October 6, 1963. © Steve Paxton.

I WOULD LIKE to unequivocally and with utmost affection assert that Steve Paxton is a Grand Old Man of postmodern dance. With that said, and without offering definitive proof, let me proceed by giving an example of how Steve was always a step ahead of most of us, and of me in particular, when we were both taking Robert Dunn’s composition class in 1960. In response to Dunn’s assignment to make a one-minute dance, Steve sat on a bench and ate a sandwich. In hindsight, I see this provocative act as a launchpad for the ongoing dialogue between Steve’s curious conceptual intelligence and his remarkable kinetic gifts, which occasionally, as in the latter case, he was wont to evade or outwit. I must say his exertions in this regard could at times baffle me.

Steve Paxton and Yvonne Rainer, Word Words, 1963. Performance view, Judson Memorial Church, New York, January 29, 1963. Steve Paxton and Yvonne Rainer. Photo: Al Giese.

For instance, around 1963 he taught a handful of us—the group included me, Lucinda Childs, Tony Holder, and Barbara

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