Uncompromising. That’s how the American choreographer Lucinda Childs (New York, 1940) describes her own work. Childs is regarded as one of the ‘grand old ladies’ of American modern dance and she stands out with a movement style that is totally individual: unchangingly abstract, almost mathematical and – also due to the unique way that she uses the music – maddeningly difficult to dance.
Childs uses relatively simple ballet and athletic movements to create highly complex masterpieces. As she herself says, she devises a number of movement phrases around a theme and then seeks the greatest possible variation within this framework. It has brought her the nickname ‘the queen of minimal dance’, but she rejects this honour. She feels she is simply part of a much larger movement in the arts.
Childs began her choreographic career in 1963, within the legendary experimental artists’ platform Judson Dance Theater in New York. In 1973 she set up her own dance company and three years later achieved her international breakthrough when, together with Robert Wilson and Philip Glass, she helped to create the now legendary opera Einstein on the Beach at the Festival d’Avignon in France – whereby Childs took the role of choreographer and first soloist. Later she also danced together with Wilson in his production I Was Sitting On My Patio This Guy Appeared I Thought I Was Hallucinating and with the French actor Michel Piccoli in Wilson’s version of Marguerite Duras’ La Maladie de la Mort.
She also continued a regular collaboration with Philip Glass. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Dance, a choreography set to music by Glass in a film/stage design by Sol LeWitt (this choreography too has been in the Introdans repertoire since 2010). From 1979 onwards Childs worked with various composers and designers, including John Adams and Frank Gehry, on a series of large-scale productions.
In addition to work for her own company, she has created pieces for leading ballet companies such as the Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Ballet, Ballett der Deutschen Oper Berlin, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo and the Italian MaggioDanza. Childs has produced a total of more than eighty choreographies. In the Netherlands, Introdans is the only company that is allowed to perform her work. After having rehearsed four existing top pieces with the group, in 2013 Childs produced a world premiere for the company: Kilar. In 2015 Introdans once again performed a world premiere of a new Childs work: Canto Ostinato, followed by the world premiere of Petricor in 2018.
Since 1992 Childs has also made many choreographies for operas. She has also directed various operas and she assisted Robert Wilson in his production of Bach’s Johannes Passion, performed by the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris in 2007. In 2004 Childs was appointed by the French government as Commandeur dance l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In July 2017 Childs will be awarded the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award.