[Theaterfacultystaff] special guest

William Fisher fisherw at ohiou.edu
Sun Apr 4 17:15:54 EDT 2010

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that the School of Theater in collaboration with the School of Dance, will host a most important artists of our time, Simone Forti.  Ms. Forti will be in residence from April 26 - 29 (traveling to and form LA April 25 and April 30).  The times, venues and other final details of this fantastic sudden opportunity are being worked out, but what is certain is that  Ms Forti will lead a workshop and also  give a talk and a reading of her writings.  As soon as everything is set I will forward the information. We are working to make all aspects of this visit accessible to the greatest number of students,  and obviously to disrupt the ongoing activities as little as possible, so I may also  be asking you for to be as flexible as possible in your class and rehearsal schedules during the week in question so that our students can participate.     

This is an exciting opportunity and though this is short notice, I want to make every effort for our students to encounter Simone Forti. 

Stay tuned.


William Fisher
Ohio University School of Theater
fisherw at ohiou.edu

I quote from Wikepedia FYI (sorry) 

Simone Forti was born in Florence, Italy in 1935. Soon after, in the early 1940’s, her Jewish family escaped to the United States. She grew up in Los Angeles then attended Reed College. However, she then dropped out and moved with her husband, Robert Morris, to San Francisco in 1956 where she trained with Anna Halprin. Although she started dancing at the late age of 21, she found a niche there and continued to dance with Halprin and the “Dancer’s Workshop.” In 1959 she moved to New York with Morris and began to study with Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. However, neither of these styles matched her interests. During this time, she taught at a nursery school where she developed a fascination with the movement of children. In the fall of 1960, she joined a Cunningham studio composition class led by Robert Dunn which was geared towards exploration and improvisation. At this point, she began to create her own independent choreography. That Christmas Robert Whitman invited her to perform at the Reuben Gallery where she presented Rollersand See-Saw.[1] She then created Huddle which is now said to be a ”seminal work and an ancestor to the improvisation genre of the 70’s known for naturalness and inevitability of her movement patterns and own performance style.”[2]
From 1962 to 1966 Forti was married to Robert Whitman and collaborated with him on his happenings. Some of these include Hole, Flower, Night Time sky, water, prune/flat.[3] During this time she created no independent choreography. Once divorced, she began to create her own choreography again but with a focus on sound rather than movement.
In 1968, she performed in Rome and began to study animal movements. This resulted in her working in Turin with experimental theatre group, “The Zoo.” After attending the “Festival of Music, Dance, Explosions, and Flight” and touring with Woodstock for a year starting in the summer of 1969, she returned to New York and studied singing with Pandit Prath Nath. Eventually she returned to California “where she occasionally substituted for Allen Kaprow at the California Institute of the Arts, leading open dance sessions called “Open Gardenia.”[4] In 1974 her book, Handbook in Motion, was published. Over the years she has taught and performed in the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, Austria, and Venezuela.[5]

Individual style
Forti’s style of performance comes from an emphasis on the body as a means of self expression. Her movement explores natural and sometimes day to day or pedestrian movements. Forti presented some of her earliest works in art galleries in New York and at Yoko Ono’s loft where the audience was able to walk around the dancers who were still enough to resemble sculpture. This innovative use of space allowed her work to be viewed as art, not just dance. Many times she would create choreography where the dancer was manipulated from an outside source instead of creating the movement themselves. This “chance choreography” fits a common procedure associated with post modern choreographers like herself. Some of her greatest influences came from observations of children and animals because of her objection to the “isolated, fragmented, and artificial movements ”[6] in many formal techniques of the day. Like other post modern choreographers she incorporated the themes of chance procedure, rules/games, improvisation, speaking/singing, and scores.

Choreography Specifics
Forti was interested in “the simple presymbolic games of children, as well as the activities of animals and plants” to “provide her with movement material that when performed on the adult body makes it a “defamiliarized” object.”[7] See-Saw and Rollers are both examples of this. In Rollers the dancers sat in shallow wooden boxes on wheels attached to three cords that were then pulled by spectators.[8] The result of dances like this differed greatly from performance to performance because of the nature of the choreography. Another postmodern characteristic is seen in Huddle because of the improvisation necessary for the piece. In this dance, a group of dancers huddles in closely while one dancer climbs over the group to the other side in no preordained fashion. There is also no order in which the dancers go, therefore, it is based on the feeling of the group as a whole. As the dancer moves out to go, the remaining group must be cognizant and feel the difference then move in to allow the dancer to climb over.[9] Not all of her pieces were focused on dance, in Accompaniment for La Monte’s “2 sounds”, the emphasis is primarily on the music. The only movement comes the winding and unwinding of a dancer standing in a large loop suspended from the ceiling. The “dancing” stops long before the music.  
Judson Dance Theater was an informal group of dancers who performed at the Judson Memorial Church, New York between 1962 and 1964. The group of artists that formed Judson Dance Theater are considered the founders of Postmodern dance. The theater grew out of a dance composition class taught by Robert Dunn, a musician who had studied with John Cage. The artists involved with Judson Dance Theater were avant garde experimentalists who rejected the confines of Modern dance practice and theory.
The first Judson concert took place on July 6, 1962, with performance works presented by Steve Paxton, Fred Herko, David Gordon, Alex and Deborah Hay, Yvonne Rainer, Elaine Summers, William Davis, and Ruth Emerson. Seminal artists that were part of the Judson Dance Theater include:
David Gordon
Steve Paxton
Yvonne Rainer
Trisha Brown
Lucinda Childs
Simone Forti
Sally Gross
Deborah Hay
Elaine Summers
Aileen Passloff
Meredith Monk
James Waring
Jessica Cargill
Jen Scoble
Carolee Schneemann
Malcolm Goldstein
Philip Corner
Judith Dunn

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