Simone Forti and Kenneth King, active downtown since the ’60s, hold special places in the pantheon of experimental choreographers. Forti, a Florentine Jew raised in Los Angeles who’s worked all over the world reducing (or raising) dance to its creaturely essence, has just published Oh, Tongue.
We who’ve worked with her know a mellow beauty, preternaturally calm, at home anywhere there’s earth or a yielding floor; new information here includes a family history of fleeing first Spain, then Italy: “A cruel family story told with laughter, of jewels sewn into the hems of skirts by family maids, the maids then drowned in vats of oil to seal the secret.” The small volume includes poetry, political musings (Forti to Dubya: “You are the unmaking”), autobiography, and a fond postscript by Jackson Mac Low.
King’s book, coming this fall, collects the choreographer’s essays and other texts written since 1972. An Antioch grad who studied with Merce Cunningham and fielded his own troupe, King demonstrates that thinking is a dance, and vice versa. While sometimes nearly impenetrable, his prose rewards ambitious attention. Whether engaging Oedipus, Husserl, Joseph Cornell, or Wendy Perron and Sally Silvers, his fleet mind manipulates thought as fluently as his lean body generates movement. In her foreword Deborah Jowitt says that he creates “dancing wor(l)ds on paper.”