I've been leafing through a 1979 book titled Dance Posters, which reproduces dance-related posters from that era. Most of the posters are of ballet and modern dance companies (although not all.) Perusing the book, I couldn't help noticing how many of the modern dance companies that were considered worthy enough to be included in this book are now gone or whose performances are sporadic. Below is a list of all the modern dance companies in the book (the ones in bold are the ones that are still with us):
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
James Cunningham and the Acme Co.
Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Andrew deGroat and Dancers
Martha Graham Dance Company
Bella Lewitzky Dance Company
Jose Limon Dance Company (a.k.a. Limon Dance Company)
Murray Louis Dance Company
Lar Lubovitch Dance Company
Nancy Meehan Dance Co.
Nikolas Dance Theatre
Elaine Summers' Experimental Intermedia Foundation
Dan Wagoner and Dancers
In addition, ponder this:
- The Trisha Brown Company is now half way through a farewell tour (as Alastair Macaulay wrote about in The New York Times this week.)
- Laura Dean no longer allows any performances of her works.
- The Erick Hawkins Company is now defunct.
- Yvonne Rainier's work is now mostly seen in museums (i.e. her current Getty show in Los Angeles).
- The various Anna Sokolow spin-off companies trundle on in impoverished circumstances.
- Twyla Tharp soldiers on without a namesake company and is forced to rely on the good auspices of artistic directors at ballet companies to program her work.
I find it interesting that three of the four surviving companies from the Dance Posters list are associated with techniques than can be methodically taught: Graham (Martha Graham Company), (Lester) Horton (Alvin Ailey Company) and Humphrey-Limon (Limon Company). Also, two of the four (Graham, Limon) belong to that historical/literary modern dance tradition that abstraction-minded dance critics devoted to the abstractions of George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham and the Judson School declared bad for us.
Make of it what you will . . .