28 May 2021
Rainer, Yvonne. “Some Retrospective Notes on a Dance for 10 People and 12 Mattresses Called ‘Parts of Some Sextets," Performed at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, and Judson Memorial Church, New York, in March, 1965.” The Tulane Drama Review, vol. 10, no. 2, 1965, pp. 168–178.
Written in 1964, the informally titled "No Manifesto" is a list of thirteen rules for the creation of choreographic work, each rule expressed as a “no statement” - a preventative, or something to be avoided. "No to spectacle," for example. Or, "No to eccentricity." As originally published, the rules are are found grouped together as a single run-on paragraph within a larger article written by Yvonne Rainer, not individually enumerated in a list. Overall, the manifesto is a rejection of the pretentious or showy qualities in American dance considered popular at the time. The manifesto is one of the founding texts of postmodern or minimalist dance, a form known for being focused on simple human movement, spontaneity and chance. Instead of defining what dance should be, the manifesto instructs readers on what it should not be. Dance - and all art making by extension - is what is possible in the space that remains beyond these rules.
How does this relate to scenography students?
The "No Manifesto" might be useful to design students in the following ways:
The text is an example of restrictions being used as a framework for creativity. Students may learn to see limits as helpful in art making, not simply as straightjackets.
It might inspire them to create No Manifestos of their own, thereby giving themselves permission to reject the dominant aesthetics of their time and find their own artistic voices.