Trajal Harrell

Stunts, gimmicks, tricks, hot air: snapshots from the edge of modern dance

This month I’ve been venturing into the further reaches of modern dance – obscure territory where I don’t feel particularly comfortable. In its hinterland is the Judson Church in New York: it was here, during the early 1960s, that young Turks such as Trisha Brown and Steve Paxton began investigating the idea that dance need not involve formalised gestures or what primary school teachers call ‘movement to music’, but could grow instead out of quotidian activities such as running, jumping and walking. From that point of departure, the journey has become ever more extreme and contorted, traversing the realms of performance art and installation, often politicised and sometimes pornographic. I