Susan Rethorst


Doris Duke Impact Award, 2015
Dance

Philadelphia, PA

Since 1975, Susan Rethorst has taught and created dances around the world. Her rigorous explorations of movement are carefully structured and reflective of the playful spirit and poignancy of humanity. In 2014, she premiered THEN, which featured projections of the dancers without a traditional projection screen, instead using brick walls or the dancers’ bodies themselves. She also created 208 East Broadway (2012), the last in a series of “living room” pieces stemming from her challenges with NYC real estate. Choosing to create each work in her own apartment, she examined spatial limitations in a choreographic sense and the role of space restrictions in the larger dance community. As a teacher of choreography, she has devised BA and post-graduate programs in Copenhagen, Cork, Salzburg, and Amsterdam. She is also known for her choreographic technique called “wrecking,” wherein another choreographer re-works Rethorst’s dances while they are in process. Her influential book, A Choreographic Mind: Autobodygraphical Writings (2012), was named one of the “best books of 2012” by The New Yorker.

  • Photo Credit: Ryan Collerd
  • Susan Rethorst- Behold Bold Sam Dog (Restaged 2013): /82343135
    Behold Bold Sam Dog (Restaged 2013)
  • Susan Rethorst- 208 East Broadway (2012): /82340999
    208 East Broadway (2012)
  • Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes
    208 East Broadway (2012)
  • Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes
    208 East Broadway (2012)

Thinking back to the start of your career, what is the most useful advice you ever received?

It was advice in the form of a class Dance a Day with Judith Dunn. She had us make a dance every day with no given starting points, assigned studio time, and themes: nothing outside of our interior lives and industry. This implied advice - to put making into daily life, do it constantly, make it prosaic - made me a choreographer. Everything I know and value followed.