David Gordon

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2013

New York, NY

David Gordon was a founding member of Judson Dance Theater in the 1960s and, for over 50 years, has built a body of work challenging perceptions of what constitutes a dance or theatre piece. He takes on the roles of actor, choreographer, dancer, theatrical director, and writer, sometimes all at once. In 1978, he incorporated Pick Up Performance Co(s), where he continues to create genre-blending work. Beginning of the End of the… (2012) incorporated writings by Luigi Pirandello over a half-hour sequence that actor-dancers repeated five times. He has often adapted material from the classical theatre cannon for his creative investigations, for works including Aristophanes in Birdonia (2006) and Dancing Henry Five (2004-2011). He has received three NEA American Masterpieces Awards, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and multiple NEFA National Dance Project grants, among others. He is a member of The Actors Studio and a founder of the Center for Creative Research. In Spring 2014—with funding from Pew Center for Arts and Heritage his Pick Up Performance Co(s) in collaboration with Susan Hess Modern Dance worked with Philadelphia performing arts community members—Gordon conducted a residency to develop new material. His annotated archives (“archivology”) will be deposited at the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center beginning in 2014.

  • Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles
  • David Gordon- The Matter/2012: Art & Archive (2012): http://vimeo.com/63103454
    The Matter/2012: Art & Archive (2012)
  • Photo Credit: Paula Court
    The Matter/2012: Art & Archive (2012)
  • Photo Credit: Paula Court
    Beginning of the End of the… (2012)
  • David Gordon- Dancing Henry Five (2004-2011): http://vimeo.com/45450765
    Dancing Henry Five (2004-2011)
  • Photo Credit: Paula Court
    Dancing Henry Five (2004-2011)

What are the creative challenges you face as an artist?

I don’t grow up dancing.
I don’t take a dance class or see a dance concert or go to the theater until I am a visual arts major in college.
Until then I see MGM movie musicals and variety shows on TV.
Performers talk and music starts
and they dance and talk some more and music ends
and they talk themselves into the next scene
where, perhaps, they argue before they laugh and make up.
It is not revolutionary to talk and dance.
It is not “crossing boundaries.”
So, when I begin to use text and movement in my work,
all I always want to do is to never repeat myself
and to avoid repertory and pigeon holing
and to keep making work I don’t know how to make
and to always keep making something new
and to always be frightening myself
and I’m still working
and I’m still scared.