Legacy and Re-Invention

July 31, 2014

Here is what I have gathered by day six in Germany, day three of the Live Legacy Project(1). New York to Germany, Brazil to France, Texas to Portugal… we are all connected by legacy– a legacy that is alive through the body and through movement.

I have learned more than the traveling “usuals” of good morning, thank you, and goodbye. As I sit and listen to the cheers of German soccer fans I begin to reflect on then and now. Legacy somehow frames longevity. Time. And I ask myself, does an era ever really end? I am convinced it does not, though history aims to categorize. Just as movement flows from one frame to another, so does an era move and flow to the next. Judson Dance Theater is not over(2). The revolution of new dance, of unlearning, is alive, supported by the legacy of those who came before.

The Live Legacy Project culminated in a symposium in Dusseldorf with workshops, panels, lectures, and evening performances. I participated in Eva Karczag’s workshop investigating Trisha Brown’s movement and compositional approach to Set and Reset: Wall 1 (1983). In this workshop I investigated flow, momentum and weight as tools to use in my dancing at Steps on Broadway, and beyond. I leave with too many discoveries to name, but with two that stand out for further investigation:

1. Be honest to your weight: We worked the phrase material without specific counts or timing restraints. The timing and flow came from the idea of weight. Eva emphasized that the material will take as long as it takes, no more, no less… as long as your are honest with your weight.

2. Trisha’s word “specificity”: it is as it sounds. The exploration lies in how to develop it.

With information comes the opportunity to re-invent. tanzhaus nrw is a re-invention of sorts. It was the old train house– where the trains would slumber, a place they would go for repair. Now, it is a place for artists to do the same. This week we slumbered, we incubated, we repaired ourselves so we can continue to chug along vibrantly–bringing legacy with us as we create. I leave Dusseldorf with gratitude, with breath, invigorated, and reminded that the adage “out with the old, in with the new” is not necessarily practical for the cultivation of artistic practice.

On to Berlin.

-Kylie Phillips
Dancer & Administrator, Steps on Broadway


(1) The Live Legacy Project, created by Angela Guerreiro in cooperation with Karen Schaffman and co-producer tanshaus nrw in Dusseldorf, believes that Judson Dance Theater movement is a zeitgeist, an attitude of experimentation and body awareness. The project explored the history of those who generated and developed American ‘avant-garde’ values of embodiment and filtered them into contemporary dance practices and performance in Germany.

Guests of the project included: Ka Rustler, Nancy Stark Smith, Lisa Nelson, Peter Hulton, Dieter Heitkamp, Gabriele Klein, Pauline de Groot, Eva Karczag, Silke Z, Joao da Silva, Barbara Stahlberger, Bernd Ka, Peter Pleyer, Stephanie Maher, Mary O’Donnell, Gabriele Wittmann, Irmela Kastener, David Brandstatter, Malgven Gerbes, Ric Allsop, Gabriele Klein, Thomas Kampe, Nina Martin, Martin Nachbar and many others. //the-live-legacy-project.com

(2) Judson Dance Theater explored unconventional methods for composition that aimed to strip concert dance of its theatricality. Judson artists led modern dance into the postmodern era as investigations challenged what audiences knew and accepted as dance. Questions were raised regarding the function of dance both in society and on stage and the legacy of these artists continues today.

Legacy and Re-Invention