Snapshots of Susan
By Lisa Kraus, February 21, 2013Commons Theater, Bennington College, 1974
The task: make and show new dances without repeating material at a rate where there is no choice but to find and unlock a personal trove of invention. Dance-a-Day was Judith Dunn’s hothouse for a strong cohort of her advanced students. The dances were in silence, without props or text. The focus: movement. Dunn interrogated the makers about process and gave pointed commentary. Susan Rethorst, graduating that year, was in her truest element in that light-bathed studio. You could see it. She worked deep and talked little. Her own body, lithe and refined, became the site of changing moods, explorations and revelations.
VanDam Street, New York, 1980
Another quiet studio. In place of green mountains, a surround of artist friends, happening spaces, rounds of performances. Dancing in Susan’s work (in one show), the job felt like being part of a complex puzzle. She alone could visualize the full picture. The group of dancers she assembled was a downtown version of virtuosic. One dances with her still. She kept on—many concerts, many venues.
School voor Nieuwe Dans Ontwikkeling, Amsterdam, 1995
Experiments with a gigantic costume. The astonishing part—she was choreographing shadows, folds and shapes on fabric. Who else was diving into that level of detail?
Dance Theater Workshop, New York, 2002
After the concert, a benefit where Susan distributed her little flip books from Behold Bold Sam Dog. A beautiful object. Mine sits on the bookshelf and when I want to look at a tiny fragment of this dance I lift it up and let the pages whizz right to left.
The LAB, Philadelphia, 2010
Screening of videos in an ‘artist’s talk.’ Seeing in Susan’s work the antidote to a casual relationship to movement, placement, image-making. A sense of ‘rightness’ pervades. Full consideration, thorough attention. But wackiness too. Thank goodness.
Goodhart Hall, Bryn Mawr ,2013
Forty-some years after seeing Susan Rethorst dance for the first time, we share a city again. She has come to Philadelphia to live and work, encouraged by many who know that her artistry will have a powerful effect on artists and audiences here. It remains quietly eloquent , like those Dance-a-Day dances fully ripened. We are honored to have her share her work in numerous ways, filling the gothic and glass-walled spaces of Goodhart.