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Dance on the Downtown Scene

Posted on February 21, 2011

This spring, a new exhibition examines choreographers and artists of 1970s New York.

Running from March 3–May 22, Barbican Art Gallery’s Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown, Gordon Matta-Clark: Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, New York 1970s looks at three leading figures in the rough-and-ready arts scene of downtown Manhattan. Dancers performed on rooftops and down the sides of walls, artists cut fragments out of abandoned buildings. Musicians, artists and choreographers moved easily from visual art to performance.

The exhibition, curated by Lydia Yee, brings together 160 works, including sculptures, photographs, films, live performances and mixed media works. During the exhibition, three of choreographer Trisha Brown’s groundbreaking works will be performed every day. In Planes (1968), a film by experimental video artist Jud Yalkut is projected onto a vertical wall on which three performers climb, giving the illusion that they are freefalling or changing scale. In Floor of the Forest (1970), dancers dress and undress their way through a grid of ropes threaded through clothing. Walking on the Wall (1971), presented outside New York for the first time, features dancers harnessed and rigged to a track on the ceiling.

During the exhibition, performances begin at 11.30am every day, with one work performed every hour. For more information, see

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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