Baryshnikov Mounts Rainer

Two Giants of Dance Join Forces

How did these two heavyweights find themselves on the same stage, assembling a dance that will wind up touring the country, playing to patrons paying as much as $65 a ticket?

Baryshnikov, occupied with rehearsals, could not be reached for comment. Says Rainer, "Misha came to see two versions of Trio A I did at Judson last year. And Sue Weil had approached me about contributing something to White Oak's program of '60s work. I went to see them at the New Victory Theater and made enthusiastic recommendations. Misha said very casually, 'Maybe you'd like to do something new.' It hit me like a ton of bricks. It was an offer I couldn't refuse."

She and veteran colleague Pat Catterson went down to the White Oak plantation in Yulee, Florida, where the New York-based company rehearses, and worked at retrieving choreography Catterson had learned in the early '70s. The young members of Baryshnikov's troupe came to see her reconstructions at Judson Church, and she gave them each a copy of Work."That was my big concern—how would they take to walking and running? They were gung ho, as was he, which is so amazing to think about. In the '60s, Steve Paxton and Lucinda Childs and I went to see Rebekah Harkness and proposed some of our dances for her ballet company. She looked at us and said, 'These dancers spend their whole lives acquiring a classical technique, and all you want them to do is walk and run?'

Yvonne Rainer (right) coaches Baryshnikov (in dress) in a solo originally made for Valda Setterfield in 1972.
photo: Sylvia Plachy
Yvonne Rainer (right) coaches Baryshnikov (in dress) in a solo originally made for Valda Setterfield in 1972.

"Now, Misha, he says, 'No problem.' I can't get over it."

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