Title: Yvonne Rainer - The Mind is a Muscle

Author:Catherine Wood


Publisher: Afterall: London


This book introduce how and why she did write the dance by analyzing The Mind is a Muscle. She applied the behavior pattern of daily life to the dance and express the idea via dance (muscle).

The dance did not tell the story and it is similar with the representation of ethnography beyond text.

1. In the same letter to Buchoh, she wrote of her choices of medium, dance or cinema: 'I have always made a public art to be viewed by people sitting together in a public space.' Onstage, Rainer's work revealed and celebrated the heaviness of real women's men's bodies that (distinct from the pointe-shoes sylphs of traditional ballet) acknowledged gravity: her performers walked up and down steps in repeated patterns, and struggled to lift each other, or a bulky mattress, with movements that were strong and clear.-p25

2.She invokes the idea of ethnographic task-time - ie., rather than using measured time to structure task, 'activities or tasks are used to measure time'. For example, the time it takes to perform a mundane activity might define 'an interval of time called "a rice cooking" of "a pissing while"'. - p68

3. A year later, then, Rainer explicitly positioned The Mind is a Muscle in contrast to this kind of event. Perhaps this was an acknowledgment of the futility of dance as protest, but moreover it proposed the different and more all-pervasive form ofresistance that Rainer has descibed since: resistance to any form of ideology, even the ideology of democratic protest which had become, to some extent, a form of acceptable mainstream acivity. As a dance writer of the time succinctly put it, 'Without ignoring the world, Rainer is non-committal in an overcommitted age.'-p74

4.I begin with this picture of the urban field in mind to figure The Mind is a Muscle 's medium - dance - as the simplest and most economical meeting point between behaviour and aesthetics. In this picture, its specialised language is just one kind of physical activity among the vast range of activies people would have been carrying out in parallel with the performance in question. Perhaps, as Rainer imagined in a diary entry in 1952, they were, 'sleeping, awaking, dressing, eating, crapping, working, copulating, bathing', among other things. The repetitions, patterns and gestures of The Mind is a Muscle appear here as a small section of activity in an expansive field of human action. It is from such a viewpoint that Rainer's conception of 'ordinary dance' as it was situated within the realm of everyday life begins to come clear.-p1-p2