Yvonne Rainer

Stephen Petronio: Past and present

The choreographer has recovered and re-staged several postmodern classics, which inform his own current work

Stephen Petronio returned to Portland’s Newmark Theatre four years after his company danced the haunting, longform piece Like Lazarus Did. This time, his company performed a concert that included both a recent, original work and a set of iconic and influential pieces from some of Petronio’s postmodern heroes and mentors—Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton and Anna Halprin.

Starting in 2014 with Merce Cunningham’s RainForest, the company has added one or more historic pieces to its repertoire as part of the project Petronio calls Bloodlines. After celebrating his company’s 30th anniversary, Petronio began Bloodlines as a way to honor the choreographers whose works were pivotal to Petronio’s own legacy. At the same time, the series provides a new path forward for the company—each season they perform a new, original work alongside the historical pieces. As writer Melanie George explains in her excellent essay included with the program, Bloodlines establishes “a ”dialogue with itself and current and future pieces by Petronio.“ It’s a way of saying, ”this is where we’ve come from,” that doesn’t just leave Petronio’s influences in the past: The historic pieces brought to life on the stage, some of them for the first time in many years, find an equal footing with brand new work.

Yvonne Rainer’s “Trio A With Flags,” performed by the Stephen Petronio Company/Photo by Julie Lemberger, courtesy of White Bird

This invites a comparative reading of the dances, new and old alike. Besides Cunningham, Petronio has focused on Trisha Brown, Halprin, Paxton, and Rainer for this exciting, ongoing project.


Linda K. and ‘Trio A’: a new view

Dancer Linda K. Johnson's long journey with Yvonne Rainer's landmark contemporary dance lands on the Ten Tiny Dances stage at Beaverton Farmers Market

This Saturday, July 9, Portland dance artist Linda K. Johnson will perform an adaptation of New York choreographer Yvonne Rainer’s seminal work Trio A at the Beaverton Farmers Market. She’s calling it Trio A Pressured (after Trio A) because it’s compressed to fit the tiny four-by-four-foot stage used by Ten Tiny Dances. Trio A was choreographed in 1966, and Johnson is a repetiteur of the work. Her job is to make sure that all of the elements of the dance that made it radically different 50 years ago remain intact when someone new learns the dance, maintaining its integrity for the next generation.

Johnson, a native of Portland, has worked up and down the West Coast for the past 25 years as a choreographer, performer, educator, arts administrator, curator, and public artist. She discovered Trio A on a 1997 trip to New York City to see a Robert Rauschenberg retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum. In an article she wrote for Dancers Group in San Francisco, Johnson describes her initial, accidental encounter with the work that would eventually change her whole approach to dance.

EVT TTD 2016 PROGRAM linda k. johnson photo

Linda K. Johnson. Photo courtesy of Ten Tiny Dances.

“Drenched from an autumn downpour, I entered the cavernous room that held the exhibition and looked for a place to sit down and dry out. The only seats in the entire space were two small black cloth cubes set in front of a video monitor in the far corner of the room.”