Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp



Spoleto Highlight - Lucinda Childs' Dance

Posted 6/5/2010 9:07:00 PM
Lucinda Childs Dance, now playing at the Spoleto Festival, is a haunting revival of choreographer Childs’ groundbreaking 1979 collaboration with composer Phillip Glass and filmmaker Sol LeWitt. In this trio of pieces, the dancers, dressed all in white, dance behind a scrim onto which is projected the large-scale images of dancers completing the same choreography.

The accompaniment of these images is what makes much of Lucinda Childs Dance so striking. The revival uses LeWitt’s original film from 1979. So, while the original audience would have seen the same dancers onstage as they did in the film, we see modern dancers onstage and the 1979 cast in the film.

The dancers on screen seem to be ghosts haunting the stage. In the second piece a single female dancer dances “with” Lucinda Childs herself. Childs’ image is huge, filling the entire height of the Gailliard Auditorium. On one hand this is a perfect expression of how it must feel for an unknown dancer to take on a role created by a genius; on the other it is a chance for Childs, now 70, to dance again. The back and forth between the past and present creates a compelling dialogue.

But Dance is not for everyone. Childs’ work has been described as “conceptual dance,” and she has always been interested in work that explores repetition and reveals the slight variations within a baseline movement that is repeated again and again. Lucinda Childs Dance is no exception, and that repetition of movement is underscored by the eerie Phillip Glass score. Childs is not interested in story, plot, or even the expression of emotion, and if you can accept that you might appreciate the dance on is own terms; if not, the repetition in the piece can become grating.

Still, Lucinda Childs Dance is one of the most important works of one of our greatest living American choreographers, and it’s a treat to see it – and her - in person. The curtain call continues the echo effect of the performance; when Lucinda Childs steps out to take a bow with the cast, we see the same angular face from the projections looking out at us.

To find out more about Lucinda Childs, her company and upcoming performance dates visit For a complete festival schedule, visit