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Book Review (Part Six) of Roselee Goldberg's Book Performance: Live Art Since 1960

Updated on February 13, 2018
Front cover of Roselee Goldberg's book "Performance: Live Art since 1960".
Front cover of Roselee Goldberg's book "Performance: Live Art since 1960".
Back cover of Roselee Goldberg's book "Performance: Live Art since 1960".
Back cover of Roselee Goldberg's book "Performance: Live Art since 1960".
Page view of Roselee Goldberg's book "Performance: Live Art since 1960".
Page view of Roselee Goldberg's book "Performance: Live Art since 1960".


Unlike the other chapter's in Roselee Goldberg's book Performance: Live Art since 1960, this chapter has a one word title: "dance"! In it we witness the beginning of the deconstruction of dance, with Merce Cunningham's "walking": an exercise for barefoot college dance students in 1952. Quite a leap from pointy shoes and tutus! This frontier: natural movements, and the emotion behind them, became the ground that Ann Halprin explored in her 1960s West Coast workshops. Through these workshops many influential dancers and choreographers moved; some of them ended up in New York city, founding the Judson Dance Theater. This laid the groundwork for the formation of the Grand Union company in 1970; in it many of the original choreographers joined hands to more fully explore spontaneity, collaboration and the contrast between ordinary and learned gestures.

As the dance community began to scrutinize the ideas behind the forms, events like Trisha Brown's "equipment pieces" emerged. In these "dances", the natural activity of walking; which is dependent on gravity, was highlighted by the performer actually walking down the outside face of a New York City building (with the assistance of mountain climbing gear)! This was recreated almost 40 years later. Other dancers, like Laura Dean took the form in a different direction; exploring spiraling motions in movement.

In the 1980s dance moved forward to embrace a fuller form. Performers like Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane broke the "traditional partnering traditions between men". Jane Comfort incorporated sign language and spoken texts as the rhythms for her dance pieces. David Rousseve used dance as a means to explore racism and African heritage. Elizabeth Streb encouraged her dancers to reach for the maximum ability of the human body. The flowering of these early efforts can be seen in the work of these artists today.

Dance artists are enhanced by the tradition from which they emerge. In Europe, there is a rich history of modern dance with several threads running through it. Europeans also receive state funding, and in some places, like Paris, Berlin, and Brussels, the state employs all the people necessary for a full dance company. That, and the addition of yearly dance festivals throughout Europe, make fertile ground for growth and exploration of the human condition through movement. An example of this fruition may be seen in the "Dance for the Camera" series produced by the Arts Council BBC2, which is ongoing even today.


Dance as an art-form is about as close to direct human expression as possible; especially after the deconstruction of classical form and the renaissance dance has enjoyed since. Choreographers pull on all forms of music, theater and gymnastics to create performance. There are as many different styles of dance as their are dancers, and Roselee Goldberg, in her book "Performance: Live Art since 1960", touches on many of them that were inspired by performance art.

If you have enjoyed reading my review, you may find these interesting also:

You can read a review of the introduction to Roselee Goldberg's book here.

The book Performance: Live Art since 1960 by Roselee Goldberg discusses the growth of performance art (also known as live art, or time based art) through the 1960's up to the late 1990's. It is an excellent overview of the performance art scene.

Here is a review of the first chapter.

The first chapter of Roselee Goldberg's book Performance: Live Art since 1960 is an accounting of some of the more politically motivated performance artists from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Read my review of the second chapter here.

The second chapter of Roselee Goldberg's book Performance: Live Art since 1960 pertains to theater, opera and, to a lesser extent, music; by performance artists from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Here's my review of the third chapter.

Roselee Goldberg's book Performance: Live Art since 1960 tackles one of the most charged areas in performance art: the human body. This chapter is packed with a visceral punch!

This is my review for chapter four.

Chapter four of Roselee Goldberg's book "Performance: Live Art since 1960" is about feminism, gay pride, and multiculturalism; and it showcases very powerful images, statements and performers.

Here is my review for chapter six.

Roselee Goldberg's book "Performance: Live Art since 1960" concludes with the chapter "video, rock n' roll, the spoken word". As well as exploring this trinity, we get a look at the underground scene in New York, and how it contributed to them.


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