Theater archives

In Memoriam


Modern dance pioneer Jane Dudley died September 19 in London, her home for 30 years. Her career encompassed a broad range of contemporary dance. She studied first with Ruth Doing, an exponent of interpretive dancing, whose approach became a touchstone for Dudley’s own teaching. She worked with Hanya Holm in the early ’30s, and joined Martha Graham’s company of women in 1934, dancing in such powerful pieces as Primitive Mysteries and Celebration and creating memorable roles in the ’40s dance-dramas Letter to the World and Deaths and Entrances. Throughout the ’30s and ’40s, she belonged to the circle of socially concerned artists at the New Dance Group; the trio she formed in 1942 with Sophie Maslow and William Bales emerged from that nexus. Their deliberately populist repertory was often inspired by folklore and daily life. Dudley directed the Batsheva Dance Company of Israel in 1968-69. She was called to London in 1970 to develop the curriculum at the newly founded London Contemporary Dance School. She herself was an American classic—sharp, down-to-earth, and persevering—like the character in her classic 1940 solo Harmonica Breakdown. —Marcia B. Siegel

Where in P.S.1 was Jill Sigman/thinkdance? As a hipster throng bustled outside, visitors to the penultimate Summer Dance Warmup watched for Guerrilla Diversions, Sigman’s latest site-specific improvisation, which traveled throughout the art center. When Sigman eluded us, winsome exhibits captured our attention; Miri Segal’s video projection of herself onto a pane of glass got an extra dimension when a J. Crew guy started grooving behind it. Karl Anderson brought us together for You and your Crack Baby need to get your shit together because we have a show, choreographed with Leslie Derrick. Wearing lamé unitards, Anderson and Derrick rehearsed a contempo ballet with horny partnering that caused occasional lover’s spats, until he ran off with the invisible baby. After that crass but harmless interlude, I found Sigman eating paper in the corner of a staircase, surrounded by William Kentridge silhouettes. In a hallway, she handed out leaflets (“Make a paper airplane and fly it!”). In a gallery full of tents, she put a plastic gun in her mouth and began a fierce circling dance. Then she was a child with a sadistic grandmother, then a jogger getting into the head of a low-flying pigeon, then she flew up another staircase to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” I tore myself away from her nomad’s journey for an excerpt from Amy Sue Rosen and Derek Bernstein’s One Magnificent Gesture. By the end of it, Sigman had probably sailed off the roof to infiltrate some unsuspecting subway. —Alicia Mosier