Minimalist Focus: Yvonne Rainer


Minimalist Focus: Yvonne Rainer


“My M.O. has been...cramming things which are not usually dealt with in the same frame...just to see how they rub up against each other; sexual identity, racism…” Years before directing films such as Privilege, a seminal intersectional work, Yvonne Rainer was accustomed to multiplicities, and the dance of more than one at a time –– eventually, in the case of her career, three. From dancer, to choreographer, to filmmaker; as Rainer said of the steps to Trio A –– “there’s a lot of one-leg balances, a lot of patting-your-head and rubbing-your-belly kinds of coordination.”

A five minute piece made over the course of six months in 1965, Trio A's quotidian movements subverted conventions of dancers –– creating disharmony between audience and feminine spectacle. Strategies or “anti-strategies,” which she would go on to write in her NO Manifesto. A defining element of the minimalist Trio A was in the gaze of its dancers, who were not to make eye contact with their audience, "no to involvement of performer and spectator." In formal conversation with feminist theorists such as Laura Mulvey, a theoretical gaze in social performance would go on to figure into her films' politics. In Privilege Rainer's societally “invisible” characters do meet the viewer's eye; focusing on the marginalized and socially out of frame –– confronting viewers with the unseen. In these socio-political studies and early choreographies, Rainer is a paragon of the progressive –– which speaks chiefly of movement.


You can watch Trio A here.


 1. Jack Mitchell (n.d.)

2. Judson Dance Theater Flier

2. Trio A (1965)

4. A Film About a Woman Who (1972)

5. Privilege (1990)

6. Privilege (1990)

7. Film About a Woman Who (1972)

8. Adam Pendleton and Yvonne Rainer (2016)

9. Feelings are Facts (2006)

10. Part of a Sextet  (1964)

11. Yvonne Rainer (n.d.)

12. Film About a Woman Who (1972)

13. Yvonne Rainer by Aldo Rossi (2012)

14. Privilege (1990)

15. Privilege (1990)