Deborah Hay with Jeanine Durning and Ros Warby
Deborah Hay was born in Brooklyn. Her mother was her first dance teacher, and directed her training until she was a teenager. She moved to Manhattan in the 1960s, where she continued her training with Merce Cunningham and Mia Slavenska. In 1964, Hay danced with the Cunningham Dance Company during a 6-month tour through Europe and Asia. She was also sharing with her Judson colleagues the artificial distinction between trained and untrained performers. She focused on large-scale dance projects involving untrained dancers, fragmented and choreographed music accompaniment, and the execution of ordinary movement patterns performed under stressful conditions.
In 1970 she left New York to live in a community in northern Vermont. Soon, she distanced herself from the performing arena, producing Ten Circle Dances, performed on 10 consecutive nights within a single community and no audience whatsoever. Thus began a long period of reflection about how dance is transmitted and presented. Her first book, Moving Through the Universe in Bare Feet (Swallow Press, 1975), is an early example of her distinctive memory/concept mode of choreographic record, and emphasizes the narratives underlining the process of her dance-making, rather than the technical specifications or notations of their form.
In 1976 Hay left Vermont and moved to Austin, Texas. Her attention focused on a set of practices (“playing awake”) that engaged the performer on several levels of consciousness at once. While developing her concepts she instituted a yearly four-month group workshop that culminated in large group public performances and from these group pieces she distilled her solo dances. Her second book, Lamb at the Altar: The Story of a Dance (Duke University Press, 1994), documents the unique creative process that defined these works.
In the late 1990’s Deborah Hay focused almost exclusively on rarified and enigmatic solo dances based on her new experimental choreographic method, such as The Man Who Grew Common in Wisdom, Voilà, The Other Side of O, Fire, Boom Boom Boom, Music, Beauty, The Ridge, Room, performing them around the world and passing them on to noted performers in the US, Europe, and Australia. Also, My Body, The Buddhist , her third book was published by Wesleyan University Press, 2000. It is an introspective series of reflections on the major lessons of life that she has learned from her body while dancing.
In 2002 Hay made a decision to apply what she had learned from 30 years of working with mostly untrained dancers to choreographing dances for experienced dancer/choreographers. In 2004 she received a NYC Bessie award for her quartet The Match. In 2006 she choreographed “O, O” for 5 New York City choreographer/dancers and then for 7 French dancers of comparable experience. The Festival d’Automne, in Paris, presented The Match in 2005, “O, O” in 2006, and If I Sing To You, in 2008, which was commissioned by The Forsythe Company and which toured extensively in Europe and Australia. In 2009 The Toronto Dance Theatre premiered her work, Up Until Now, and in 2010 Lightning premiered at the Helsinki Festival, a dance for 6 Finnish dancers/choreographers.
In 2007 Hay received a BAXten Award. “Your experimental work has remained alive & contemporary over four decades, inspiring your colleagues and peers and now – new generations of choreographers & performers. Your sustained commitment and your willingness to change course provides an example for others. Your articulate writing on the body & dance has had a profound impact on the field.”
In October 2009 Deborah received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Dance from the Theater Academy in Helsinki, Finland and in 2010 she was awarded an US Artist Friends Fellowship and a 2011 artist’s grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, based in New York. In April 2012, Deborah Hay became one of the 21 American performing artists to receive the inaugural and groundbreaking 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award.
After a two year research collaboration with Motion Bank, a project of the Forsythe Company, an online interactive website dedicated to Hay’s choreographic aesthetics will be launched in June 2013.
Jeanine Durning is a choreographer and performer based in Brooklyn, NY. Durning began performing her solo works in 1998. Her evening length choreographies include A Good Man Falls (2002), half URGE (2004), out of the kennel into a home (2006), and Ex-Memory: waywewere (2009). Since 2002, she has created 15 original works, commissioned by companies and independent performers. In 2008, Durning was the recipient of The Alpert Award for Choreography.
Jeanine’s current solo performance, inging, was first presented in 2010 in Amsterdam and has since been invited to theaters, studios, museums, galleries and rooms in Berlin, Amsterdam, Leuven (BE), Chambersburg (PA), Minneapolis and NYC.
Jeanine has performed in several choreographed ensemble works by Deborah Hay since 2005. She is currently involved in Hay’s work with Motion Bank, a project of the Forsythe Company, which includes her adaptation of the solo No Time to Fly, the trio As Holy Sites Go, and more recently, As Holy Sites Go/duet with Ros Warby. Over the years, Jeanine has had the pleasure to work with many choreographers, among them, including David Dorfman, Susan Rethorst, Lance Gries, and Chris Yon.
Jeanine has an ongoing teaching practice, facilitating classes in movement and choreographic practices, and is regularly invited to advise the work of other makers. More recently, she has been on faculty at SNDO and MTD (Amsterdam Theaterschool), HZT (Inter-University Centre for Dance- Berlin), Laboratory for Contemporary Dance Practice (Vaganova Academy, St. Petersburg) and NYU Tisch School of the Arts (NYC).
ROS WARBY is one of Australia’s leading dancer/choreographers, creating and performing solo dance work since 1990. Her award winning work has been presented in Australia, Europe and the USA. Warby has also performed with numerous companies and artists including Lucy Guerin Inc. and the Deborah Hay Company. Recognised for her unique performance work in many contexts Warby has received the Robert Helpmann Award for Best Female Dancer 2007, Greenroom Awards for Best female performer (2000 & 2007) and best Solo performer in 2001, an Australia Council Fellowship (2002 – 2004), and the 2007 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award.
Her critically acclaimed solo dance works SOLOS and SWIFT toured America and Europe. Her 2006 work, MONUMENTAL, received the Age Critics Commendation Award, the Robert Helpmann Award for Best Female Dancer, the Greenroom Award for Best Female Performer and the Greenroom Award for Best Composition. It toured the US in 2009 to Utah, Houston, Miami and New York to critical acclaim, and was presented at the Venice Biennale in June 2010. Monumental will again be presented at London’s Dance Umbrella in October this year.
In 2003 Warby was commissioned by ABC television to make a cinematic version of SWIFT. It was televised in 2007 and screened at international festivals worldwide. Warby continues to work on occasion with the legendary US choreographer Deborah Hay performing her solo adaptations of Hay’s choreographies.
Warby finished her classical ballet training in Europe with Marika Besobrasova, Monte Carlo, Central School of Ballet, London, and the Royal Danish Ballet School. Influenced by her studies of the Alexander Technique since 1991, she became a certified teacher in 2001. Other influences to her dance practice have been the teachings of Lisa Nelson, Dana Reitz and Eva Karczag, but it is the teaching and choreography of Deborah Hay that has been most engaging, stimulating Warby’s artistic development and practice over the past 15 years.