about trio A

Trio A (1966) wherever it appears.

“It is my overall concern to reveal people as they are engaged in various kinds of activities—alone, with each other, with objects—and to weight the quality of the human body towards that of objects and away from the super-stylization of the dancer.”
Yvonne RainerSTATEMENT accompanying The Mind is a Muscle, 1968

This performance of Trio A is by Yvonne Rainer. It was filmed in 1978.

Trio A , and the larger performance of which it is a part, is discussed in a full length book by Tate Curator Catherine Wood.


The book’s blurb reads:

“In 1968, toward the end of a decade that witnessed civil rights protests, the escalation of the war in Vietnam, and an expanded notion of artistic practice (epitomized by “Happenings”), Yvonne Rainer presented her evening-length work, The Mind is a Muscle. A choreographed, multipart performance for seven dancers, interspersed with film and text, this major work was built upon a backbone of variations on Rainer’s dance solo, Trio A. In this extended illustrated essay exploring The Mind is a Muscle,Catherine Wood examines the political and media context in which Rainer chose to use the dance-theatre situation as her medium and analyzes Rainer’s radical approach to image-making in live form.

Rainer’s work has been linked strongly with minimalist sculpture: she compared the neutral, specific qualities of those objects to her own “work-like” or “task-like,” “ordinary” dance, and she collaborated early on with Robert Morris. But The Mind is a Muscle manifests an agitated and contradictory relationship to the idea of “work” in the context of an affluent, postwar America. Wood describes the way the choreography of The Mind is a Muscle proposed a new lexicon of movement that stripped away the gestural conventions of dance or theater narrative in an attempt to present the human subject on her own terms while at the same time manipulating the seductiveness of the image, increasingly being harnessed by capitalism. Rainer’s legacy persists through her decision to allow the Trio A from The Mind is a Muscle as a “multiple,” distributed by being taught to many dancers and non-dancers, proposing, Wood argues, for the art object as code.”


One thought on “about trio A

  1. I incorporated part of Yvonne’s work Trio A (1966) into the workshop as a way to set a tone for the workshop that focused on the art of the body dancing without music, text, props/objects, etc. I was interested to work with task-based dance making, basic choreographic tools (such as space, time, etc). By beginning the workshop teaching a short section of Trio A and asking the participants to notate it (in their own approach) and then read that notation to another dancer who then interpreted what they heard, was a way to address the rigor at which choreography works, the challenges of notating dance and the slipperiness of translation within dance and the attempt to preserve an “original” dance work. Yvonne has been highly influential to my own practice and is a close mentor and friend. I am certified by Yvonne to teach Trio A and I often travel, working with dancers and visual artists, to teach, perform and lecture about my experiences of transmitting Trio A and the impact it has had on my own professional practice as a choreographer.

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