Few artists have contributed so deeply to so many fields as the choreographer, dancer, writer, and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer. Born in 1934 in San Francisco, Rainer moved to New York City in the 1950s and began to make her own dances in 1960, cofounding the Judson Dance Theater in 1962. The Mind Is a Muscle, arguably her most celebrated work, was first performed in full at the Anderson Theater in 1968, and included in its program her signature dance, “Trio A” (1966). Since 1972, she has completed seven critically acclaimed, feature-length films. Rainer is the recipient of numerous awards, among them a MacArthur Fellowship (1990–95), two Guggenheim Fellowships (1969, 1988), and a Wexner Prize (1995).

Rainer’s written works include A Woman Who . . . Essays, Interviews, Scripts (1999) and Feelings Are Facts: A Life (2006); her first book of poems was recently published by Paul Chan’s Badlands Unlimited press. Over the course of three weekends—in October 2011, and February and May 2012—the Dia Art Foundation is presenting a series of her early and recent dance works at Dia:Beacon. The first performances run Saturday and Sunday, October 22–23. Here she discusses how she came to New York City and the path that took her from dance to film and back again.


Yvonne Rainer interviewed at the Artforum offices on October 17, 2011.

— As told to David Velasco