A Brief History of Motion Artists

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    Francois Delsarte

    A French musician and dance teacher. Delsarte established influential aesthetic principles for the lineaments of expression and the import of gesture. His ideas formed the ideological basis for modern dance.
  • "Petite automne"

    "Petite automne"
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    Auguste Rodin

    Rodin was a French visual artist and sculpture and considered one of the pioneers in this field in France. His work often sculpted the human figure and drew inspiration from dance and dancers like Isadora Duncan specifically.
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    Steele MacKaye

    MacKaye was an American playwright, actor, theater manager and inventor and a student of Francois Delsarte . In New York City he founded the St. James, Madison Square, and Lyceum theatres.
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    Antoine Bourdelle

    Bourdelle, born Émile Antoine Bordelles, was a prolific French sculptor, painter, and teacher who took particular fascination with the human form and the dancing body. His most famous sculptors of this type were of dancer Isadora Duncan.
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    Loie Fuller

    Loie Fuller, born Marie Louise Fuller, was an American dancer and distinguished innovator in modern dance and theatrical lighting techniques. Artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Auguste Rodin, and Jules Chéret used her as a subject and several writers dedicated works to her. Fuller’s unprecedented success in Europe paved the way for the careers of later modern dancers, including Isadora Duncan, Maud Allan, and Ruth St. Denis.
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    Emile Jaque-Dalcroze

    A Swiss composer, musician and musical educator. He developed a system of learning and experiencing music through movement which came to be known as Dalcroze Eurhythmics - positioning the body as the primary musical instrument.
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    Emil Nolde

    Nolde was a German Expressionist painter and printmaker. A friend of modern (German Expressionist) dancer Mary Wigman, he often used her as a subject.
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    Lavinia Berta Schulz

    A German Expressionist actress and dancer. With her husband, Walter Holdt, she developed a number of elaborate mask dances – initially to the musical accompaniment of avant-garde composer Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt.
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    Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse

    A French artist best known for his painting, Matisse's love of dance seeped into his visual work, allowing him to create kinetic, still imagery. His work "La Dance" (1931-2) was shown at Danser sa vie.
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    Isadora Duncan

    A famous American dancer and one of the pioneers of modern dance. At the time it was first performed, Duncan's work was considered highly controversial - one of her main themes being nudity.
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    Francis Picabia

    Picabia was a French avant-garde painter, poet and typographist. He dabbled in Impressionism and Pointillism, before aligning himself with Cubism. Among many other works, he was known for his paintings of peasant dances - specifically his ability to capture their motion and excitiement.
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    Ruth St. Denis

    St. Denis was a pioneering figure in the American modern dance movement, distinguished by her affinity with eastern ideas. In collaboration with Ted Shawn, she founded the Denishawn Dance School and went on to teach a number of prominent performers.
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    Rudolf von Laban

    Laban was a German was a dance artist and theorist and one of the pioneers of modern dance. His life's work in the analysis of bodily gesture formed the basis for Laban Movement Anysis, Labanotation (Kinetography Laban) and numerous other, more specific, forms of formalised dance and movement notation. His work is known to have inspired contemporary artists such as William Forsythe.
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    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

    Kirchner was an influential German Expressionist painter and printmaker for whom the human form - and its movement - was a key concept throughout his work. He was known to paint German Expressionist, modern dancer and choreographer Mary Wigman.
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    Rudolf Bode

    Bode was a gym teacher and student of the body in motion. He spent 11 years (1910-1911) instructing at the training institute of Émile Jaques-Dalcroze (a prolific musician and composer,and developer of Dalcroze Eurhythmics) in Hellerau.
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    Pablo Picasso

    Picasso, born Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, was a Spanish artist influenced by the likes of Vincent van Gogh. He was a talented sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet, playwright and perhaps one of the most famous painters who ever lived. Picasso was fascinated by the human form and was also known to paint dance scenes.
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    Theo van Doesburg

    The influential Dutch painter Theo van Doesburg was also an architect, designer and art theorist. A convert to geometric abstract art and a founding member of the De Stijl design movement, along with Piet Mondrian (1872-1944). Influences of new dance forms on the visuals arts were starkly recognizable in many of his works.
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    Sonia Delaunay

    Delauney was a Russian-born French artist, who spent most of her working life in Paris, cofounding the Orphism art movement, noted for its use of strong colours and geometric shapes. It is in this style that she produced painted Latin dance scenes and rhythmic patterns.
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    Mary Wigman

    Wigman was a prolific German dancer and choreographer - notable as the pioneer of expressionist dance, dance therapy, and movement training without pointe shoes.
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    Oskar Schlemmer

    Schlemmer was a German painter, sculptor, designer and choreographer who taught in the Bauhaus school.
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    Sophie Taeuber-Arp

    Taeuber-Arp was a Swiss artist, painter, sculptor, and dancer and a leading figure in Zurich and Paris Dada. Her work in geometric abstraction has come to be considered some of the most important of the 20th century.
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    Vaslav Nijinsky

    Widely considered the best and most important male dancer of the 20th century, Nijinsky was a Russian-born ballet dancer and choreographer of Polish descent.
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    Man Ray

    Ray was an American visual artist with affinities to the Dada and Surrealism movements - though his associations were never concretised. He created works such as "The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows" (1916) which abstracted the human form and alluded to continuous movement.
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    Ted Shawn

    Shawn was introduced to dance as a cure for illness. He became one of the earliest male innovators in modern dance and co-found the Denishawn school and company with his wife, Ruth St. Denis. When the company went into decline after their divorce, Shawn founded Jacob's Pillow Festival - now a historic landmark, encompassing a school.
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    Alexander Rodchenko

    Aleksander Mikhailovich Rodchenko was a Russian artist, sculptor, photographer and one of the founders of Russion graphic designer. He was also a pioneer of the Constructivist movement after an encounter with the Russian Futurists.
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    Valeska Gert

    Considered one of Germany's "lost" performing artists, Gert was a Jewish dancer and cabaret artist. She was also an active actress and artists' model.
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    Martha Graham

    Graham was an American modern dancer, choreographer and teacher whose influence on modern dance has been likened to Picasso's on modern visual art. Over more than 50 years she created more than 180 works, from solos to large-scale works, in most of which she herself danced.
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    Martha Graham

    An American modern-dancer and choreographer, Graham is easily one of dance's most instrumental historical figures. Her influence being clear in works of dancers and choreographers like Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Thar. She was known for her fearlessly interdisciplinary practice and solid theoretical groundings.
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    André Kertész

    [Kertész], born Kertész Andor, was a Hungarian-born photographer known for his groundbreaking, haunting contributions to photographic composition and the photo essay. The body was often his subject and his compositions were built to suggest movement in and through them.
  • "Dance Serpentine"

    "Dance Serpentine"
    By Loie Fuller. Watch it here.
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    Albrecht Knust

    Knust was a German dancer, choreographer, teacher and movement theorist. Along with Kurt Jooss, he was a student of Rudolf von Laban.
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    Kurt Jooss

    Jooss was an important German modern dancer and choreographer. He began his career in the 1920s, dancing lead roles in the choreography of Rudolf von Laban. Jooss is noted for establishing several dance companies, including, most notably, the Folkwang Tanztheater in Essen. He was known for his mixture of classical ballet with theatre ans widely regarded the founder of dance theatre (or tanztheater).
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    Harald Kreutzberg

    Kreutzberg was a German dancer and choreographer, famous for his part-dance-part-mime solos. Trained at the Dresden Ballet School, Kreutzberg also studied modern dance with Mary Wigman and Rudolf Laban. He also appeared in plays directed by Max Reinhardt. He then toured the U.S., Canada, and Europe with the dancer Yvonne Georgi, and in 1932 he joined Ruth Page for tours of the U.S. and the Far East.
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    Isamu Noguchi

    Noguchi was an American artist and landscape architect whose artistic career spanned six decades. During this time, he collaborated with dancers like Martha Graham to create living installations.
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    Fritz Winter

    Winter was a German painter, trained in the Bauhaus style. He developed similar ideas to those of Emile Jaque-Dalcroze
    and Rudolf Bode.
  • "Danseuse cambodgienne"

    "Danseuse cambodgienne"
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    Josephine Baker

    Baker was an American-born French dancer, singer, and actress and civil rights activist who came to be known in various circles as the "Black Pearl," "Bronze Venus" and even the "Creole Goddess".
  • "Isadora Duncan"

    "Isadora Duncan"
  • "L'Apres Midi d'un Faune"

    "L'Apres Midi d'un Faune"
  • "Kerzentänzerinnen" ("Danseuses aux bougies")

    "Kerzentänzerinnen" ("Danseuses aux bougies")
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    Jackson Pollock

    Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. He was well known for his unique style of drip painting, which inscribed the movements of his body through space on a horizontal canvas. He was often photographed by Hans Namuth.
  • "Udnie, (Titres attribués:Jeune fille américaine; Danse)"

    "Udnie, (Titres attribués:Jeune fille américaine; Danse)"
  • "Dance"

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    Hans Namuth

    A German-born photographer, Namuth specialised in portraiture - photographing a number of artists who worked in the abstract expressionist tradition, including Jackson Pollock.
  • "Dancers"

    By Theo van Doesburg.
  • "Arcs and Segments"

    "Arcs and Segments"
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    Merce Cunningham

    [Mercier Philip "Merce" Cunningham]( was an American dancer and choreographer who was at the forefront of the American modern dance for over 5 decades. He frequently collaborated with artists of other disciplines, including musicians John Cage and David Tudor, artists Robert Rauschenberg and Bruce Nauman. Many who trained at the Merce Cunningham Dance Company went on to form their own companies.
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    Anna Halprin

    Halprin helped pioneer the experimental postmodern dance, establishing the fundamentals with her contemporaries such as Trisha Brown, Simone Forti,Yvonne Rainer, John Cage, and Robert Morris In the 1950s, she established the San Francisco Dancers’ Workshop. Being able to freely explore the capabilities of her own body, she created a systematic way of moving using kinesthetic awareness Many of her works since have been based on scores.
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    Lygia Clark

    Clark was a Brazilian artist who often associated with the Brazilian Constructivist movements of the mid-20th century as well as the Tropicalia movement. She was best known for the movement and rhythm in her paintings and installation work.
  • "Tobogan Frau"

    "Tobogan Frau"
    By Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdts
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    Kazuo Shiraga

    Shiraga was a Japanese modern artist who belonged to the Gutai group of avant-garde artists. Inspired by the works and dynamic technique of Jackson Pollock, Shiraga's preferred method of painting involved applying ample amounts of oil paint to large sheets of paper or canvas on the floor, and manipulating the paint with only his feet while suspended from a rope attached to the ceiling. Some movements were choreographed, others not.
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    Allan Kaprow

    Kaprow was an American painter, assemblagist and a pioneer in establishing the concepts of performance art, also influencing Fluxus and Installation Art. He helped to develop the "Environment" and "Happening" in the late 1950s and 1960s, as well as their theory. Eventually Kaprow shifted his practice into what he called "Activities", intimately scaled pieces for one or several players, devoted to the study of normal human activity in a way congruent to ordinary life.
  • "Totentanz der Mary Wigman"

    "Totentanz der Mary Wigman"
    By Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
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    Yves Klein

    Klien was a French artist and an excellent example of the ways in which the lines between visual and performed, embodied art began to blur - specifically through his Anthropometries series (1960). He was a leading member of the French artistic movement, Nouveau réalisme, founded by Pierre Restany (an art critic) in 1960.
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    Andy Warhol

    Warhol is one of the most prolific American artists today and leader of the Pop Art movement. He created his Dance Diagrams in the early 1960s, using the foxtrot and tango as a basis for critiquing the phenomenon of participatory art.
  • "La Danse"

    "La Danse"
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    Robert Morris

    Morris was a proinent American sculpter, conceptual artist and conceptual artist in the Minimalist tradition. He was also a writer and creater of performance artworks including "Site" with Carolee Schneemann at Stage 73, Surplus Dance Theater, New York, in 1964.
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    Yvonne Rainer

    Rainer is an American dancer, choreographer, filmmaker and writer whose work is highly experimental and occasionally aligns itself with the minimalist tradition. Her work has been some of the most influential of the last half century and she is known to have worked with other influencers in the field including Xavier Le Roy and Anna Halprin.
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    Simone Forti

    Forti is an Italian-American postmodern choreographer, musician and writer. Throughout her career she became known for a style of dancing and choreography that was largely based on basic everyday movements, such as games and children's playground activities and improvisation. She danced with many well known choreographers including Anna Halprin, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Trisha Brown and Robert Whitman.
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    Joan Jonas

    Jonas is an American visual artist and a pioneer of video and performance art. She is considered one of the most important female artists to emerge in the late 1960s to early 1970s.
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    Trisha Brown

    Brown in a postmodern choreographer and dancer and founder of the Trisha Brown Dance Company. She is also known for her drawings - which she uses her entire body to make, alluding to a movement notation of sorts. Artists such as Heather Hansen use similar techniques.
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    Hélio Oiticica

    Oiticica was a Brazilian visual artist, best known for his participation in the Neo-Concrete Movement, for his innovative use of colour, and for what he later termed "environmental art" which included performance. He worked closely at times with artist Lygia Clark.
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    Carolee Schneemann

    Schneemann is an American visual artist and member of the Judson Dance Theatre, known for her focus on the body, sexuality and gender. She produced performance art pieces such as "Site" (1964), in collaboration with American sculptor Robert Morris.
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    Lucinda Childs

    Childs is an American postmodern dancer, choreographer and actress whose work its minimalist movement despite its transitional complexity. Her major themes included the exploration of 2D and 3D movement.
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    Pina Bausch

    Philippina "Pina" Bausch was a German, choreographer, dance teacher, modern dancer and ballet director.
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    Babette Mangolte

    Mangolte is a French-American teacher, cinematographer and film director who has worked with highly noted performing artists such as Trisha Brown.
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    Bruce Nauman

    Nauman is an American artist. His practice spans a broad range of media including sculpture, photography, neon, video, drawing, printmaking, and performance. He has been recognised through a long list of exhibitions and collaborated with noted artists in a variety of fields.
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    Dan Graham

    Graham is a noted American artist, writer and curator who has been involved in numerous project involving the performing arts. He has been known to be a great admirer of Bruce Nauman.
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    Marina Abramović

    Abramović is a Serbian performance artist based in New York. Her work challenges the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind.
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    Adrian Piper

    [Adrian Margaret Smith Piper]( is an American conceptual artist and philosopher whose work often invokes the performative. Her work addresses ostracism, otherness, racial "passing," and racism.
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    João Penalva

    Penalva is a Portuguese artist who has been living in the UK since studying at Chelsea School of Art in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Making art is his second career – in his first he was a dancer, working with Pina Bausch and Gerhard Bohner.
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    William Forsythe

    Forsythe is an American dancer and choreographer. He is known internationally for his work with the Ballet Frankfurt (1984–2004) and The Forsythe Company (2005–present). Recognized for the integration of ballet and visual arts, his vision of choreography as an organizational practice has inspired him to produce numerous installations, films, and web-based knowledges.
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    Siobhan Davies

    [Davies]( is an English dancer and choreographer, originally trained in the visual arts. She founded the Siobhan Davies Dance Company in 1988 and has created a number of works which engage with the concepts of the dance score.
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    Mike Kelley

    Kelley was an American artist. His work involved found objects, textile banners, drawings, assemblage, collage, performance and video.
  • "Challenging Mud"

    "Challenging Mud"
    By Kazuo Shiraga. View panel discussion on the work here.
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    Jan Fabre

    Fabre is a Belgian multidisciplinary artist, playwright, stage director, choreographer and designer.
  • "Eighteen Happenings in Six Parts"

    "Eighteen Happenings in Six Parts"
    By Allan Kaprow. View a 1988 rendition, in New York City, here.
  • "Anthropométries of the Blue Period"

    "Anthropométries of the Blue Period"
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    Isaac Julien

    [Julien]( is an installation artist and filmmaker who often incorporates dane and the performing arts in general, into his works.
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    La Ribot

    Born "Maria", Ribot is a Spanish dancer and choreographer of contemporary dance who also works with large-scale installation.
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    Thomas Lehmen

    Lehman is a German choreographer who published what is, to date, the only attempt at a copywrite-protected, marketable score of a performance in 2002. and later developed parameter-based systems - based on the systems theory of Niklas Luhmann - which he collected in a box and called Funktionen (2004).
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    Xavier Le Roy

    Le Roy is a French choreographer and contemporary dancer. In addition to a substantial body of individual work, Le Roy has worked with influential figured in the field including Jérôme Bel and Yvonne Rainer.
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    Janine Antoni

    Antoni is a contemporary performing artist, sculptor and photographer. Her work's largest concern is with process - all that comes before the finished product - and how everyday gesture can be tranformed into artists process.
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    Jérôme Bel

    Bel is a French dancer and choreographer, whose characteristic choreographic style is known as non-dance, typified by his 2001 piece "The Show Must Go On."
  • "Paper dance, parades and changes"

    "Paper dance, parades and changes"
    By Anna Halprin.Watch Halprin talk about the piece here.
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    Matthew Barney

    Barney is an American artist who works in sculpture, photography, drawing and film. His early sculptural works combined with performance and video to create multi-media installations.
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    Christian Jankowski

    Jankowski is a contemporary multimedia artist who largely works with video, installation and photography .He has dabbled in performance art, exploring the concepts of choreography and paying homage to dancers like Trisha Brown. He lives and works in Berlin and New York. His most recent work playfully critiques the reality TV phenomenon and poplar media in general.
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    Mårten Spångberg

    Spångberg has been regarded the "bad boy" of contemporary choreography with an explicit political (anti-neo-liberal) agenda.
  • "Parangolés"

    By Helio Oiticica (Performed until 1979). View an extract here.
  • "Huddle"

    By Simone Forti. Watch 2012 re-enactment, narrated by Forti, here.
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    Heather Hansen

    Hansen is a visual artist and designer who uses her body to create large-scale drawings, using charcoal and pastel. Her methods are similar to those of Trisha Brown. founder of the Trisha Brown Dance Company.
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    Wayne McGregor

    McGregor is an American dancer and choreographer, known for his incorporation of film and the visual arts in his works. He founded the Random Dance Company in 1992.
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    Nevin Aladağ

    Aladağ is a Turkish, multidisciplinary artist (now living in Berlin, Germany), practising: sculpture, film, photography, installation, design, painting and performance art.
  • "Boxes"

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    Boris Charmatz

    [Charmatz]( is a French choreographer concerned largely with activating the audience to participate and therefore stretching the limits of choreographic practice.
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    Michael Kliën

    [Kliën]( is a choreographer and artist. His work is concerned with the theoretical and practical reworking of choreography and dance and its contribution to society.
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    Daria Martin

    Daria Martin is a contemporary American artist and filmmaker based in London since 2002. Martin's 16mm films address the space between disparate states of being–levels of consciousness, the internal and the external, and the body, mind, and object–working to unravel viewer's learned habits of perception. Her work often compares the artistic mediums including painting, performance, dance, and sculpture.
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    Tino Sehgal

    Sehgal is a British–German artist, based in Berlin. He describes his performance works as "constructed situations" in which he prioritises viewer interaction.
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    Pablo Bronstein

    Bronstein is an artist based in London who approaches his interest in architecture through a wide range of media – from drawing, sculpture and installation to performance. In is installations and performances, he combines the languages of architecture and dance, synthesising the grandiose gestures of the Baroque with the lean aesthetics of postmodernism.
  • "Dance"

    By Lucinda Childs. Watch a 2009 performance here.
  • "Planetary Dance"

    "Planetary Dance"
    Score by Anna Haplrin. View the 28th performance here.
  • "Envelopa: Drawing Restraint"

    "Envelopa: Drawing Restraint"
    By Matthew Barney. See the series full website here.
  • "Instead of allowing something..."

    "Instead of allowing something..."
    By Tino Sehgal. See a 2015 rendition here.
  • "In the Palace"

    "In the Palace"
    By Daria Martin. Watch a short extract here.
  • "The show must go on"

    "The show must go on"
    By Jérôme Bel. Watch it here.
  • "Schreibstück"

    By Thomas Lehmen. See on version here.
  • "Kiss"

    By Tino Sehgal. See it here.