Rainer, Yvonne (1934--) By Miller, Stefanie
Yvonne Rainer is a key figure of both American postmodern dance and avant-garde feminist cinema. Rainer was a founding member of New York City’s Judson Dance Theater, a hub of postmodern dance experimentation in the 1960s. In her choreography, Rainer rejected the spectacle, virtuosity, and drama exhibited by classical ballet and modern dance, choosing instead to present functional, task-like, neutral movement. Her approach to choreography, which refused to provide easy pleasure, is demonstrated in her “No Manifesto” (1965). Between 1966 and 1969, Rainer began to experiment with film, creating several short works that play with the antihumanist idea that bodies can be equated with objects. In the 1970s Rainer turned her attention exclusively to feature-length experimental filmmaking. Her films in the 1970s and 1980s are works of bricolage that use radical juxtapositions of sound and imagery to create experiences of discontinuity that challenge conventional narrative cinematic structures. Rainer’s first feature-length film, The Lives of Performers (1972), blends fiction and reality by including rehearsal footage from previous dance works, and featuring several dancers from her company, Grand Union, as characters in the film. Rainer’s early films have been described as almost structuralist, owing their inspiration to filmmakers such as Maya Deren, Hollis Frampton, and Andy Warhol.