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HELLZAPOPPIN': What about the bees?, a new piece by dance and film pioneer Yvonne Rainer (born 1934), will have its European debut on January 27, 2023 at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden.
European premiere: January 27, 2023
Further dates: January 28 and 29, 2023
Yvonne Rainer, an American choreographer and filmmaker, is one of the most prominent cultural personalities of the last fifty years and a major innovator in a variety of disciplines ranging from dance and cinema to feminist theory and poetry. As a founding member of the Judson Dance Theatre in New York, an informal experimental collective that gave rise to postmodern dance in the 1960s, Rainer was a leader of a generation that explored the utilization of basic, everyday motions and chores such as standing still, walking, and running.
HELLZAPOPPIN’: What about the bees? touches upon Rainer’s worlds of text, experimental film, and choreography.
The first half of the event is comprised of her 2002 video After Many a Summer Dies the Swan: Hybrid. It combines sections from Rainer’s After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, a work created for Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project in 2000, with words by Austrian artists and thinkers such as Oskar Kokoschka, Adolf Loos, Arnold Schönberg, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. The 30-minute documentary dives into Vienna’s self-absorbed, dreamlike, avant-garde modernism at the turn of the century, connecting today’s far-right reality to its origins in early twentieth-century Europe.
HELLZAPOPPIN’: What about the bees? is the second segment of the show. A work for nine performers. In keeping with Rainer’s previous performances, the new piece blends text, dance, and film snippets from two classics—the 1941 Hollywood musical HELLZAPOPPIN’ and French auteur Jean Vigo’s 1993 short Zero for Conduct—as a backdrop and inspiration for its choreographic components.
HELLZAPOPPIN’: What About the Bees? is Yvonne Rainer’s “final dance,” she says. It is the result of sixty years of dance, filming, writing, and teaching—an iconic body of work that has had a profound impact on numerous generations of artists worldwide.
Following the solo exhibition of artist Jimmy Robert (on view through January 15, 2023), the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden will continue its exploration of performative methods and works by focusing on Yvonne Rainer, whose approach to the body “more as a source of an infinite variety of movements” dovetails remarkably with the Kunsthalle’s program, curatorial vision, and reflections on feminist, queer, and critical perspectives on what it means to live and transfom. Rainer’s current work is thus presented in Baden-Baden as a powerful statement on pressing issues ranging from systemic racism to societal prejudice, which require courage to recognize and reveal.
HELLZAPOPPIN’—What about the bees? was commissioned by Performa, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, with generous support from Sarah Arison and the Performa Commissioning Fund. It is presented in Europe by Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden alongside Performa. The performances in Baden-Baden are supported by the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program with funds from the Federal Foreign Office.
Concept and direction: Yvonne Rainer, aided by research and inputs from the dancers. Assistant director: Pat Catterson. Performed by Emily Coates, Brittany Bailey, Brittany Engel-Adams, Patricia Hoffbauer, Vincent McCloskey, Emmanuèle Phuon, David Thomson, and Timothy Ward. Guest performer: Kathleen Chalfant.
Following a fifteen-year career as a choreographer and dancer, Yvonne Rainer transitioned to filmmaking (1960–1975). She returned to dance in 2000, after seven experimental feature-length films, at the request of Mikhail Baryshnikov and his White Oak Dance Project (After Many a Summer Dies the Swan). Her dances and videos have been shown at concert halls and museum retrospectives across the United States, Europe, and Asia.