Feelings Are Facts:
The Life of Yvonne Rainer
At 25, she took her first dance class.
At 28, she changed dance forever.
The only documentary to focus solely on the life and career of Yvonne Rainer, Feelings Are Facts: The Life of Yvonne Rainer tells the captivating story of one of America's most important artists. In 1962, as a founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Rainer revolutionized modern dance by introducing everyday movements like walking and running into the dance lexicon. Abandoning choreography in the ‘70s, Rainer introduced narrative techniques into American avant-garde film, turning that genre on its head, too. In Feelings Are Facts, we follow Rainer, now 82 and returned to choreography, as she continues to create vibrant, courageous, unpredictable dances that invite audiences to question basic assumptions about art and performance.
A riveting documentary...
a compelling portrait of a truly original artist, as vital as ever in her senior years.
-San Francisco Examiner
Articulate and illuminating...
Rainer comes across here as a flinty, inspiring and indefatigably questing practitioner, keen to explore her chosen fields to their maximum potential.
An engaging, fascinating look at a maverick contemporary-art leader...
Essential viewing for not only dance aficionados, but for those seeking an illuminating example of how postmodern artists were instrumental in "opening up the palace gates of high art."
-The Georgia Straight
WATCH THE TRAILER
Choreographer. Filmmaker. Shifter of Paradigms.
One of the most influential artistic figures of the last 50 years, Yvonne Rainer is a standout across multiple disciplines: dance, cinema, minimalism, conceptual art, feminist art, and postmodernism.
Rainer exploded onto the New York performance scene in the early 1960s, a protégé of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, boldly pursuing a minimalist aesthetic, using everyday, often random movements in her dances. A founding member of the legendary Judson Dance Theater, she collaborated with many of the rule-breaking artists of her generation: Robert Rauschenberg, Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton, Lucinda Childs, Robert Morris, and Carolee Schneemann. With her focus on spare, pedestrian movements in works like the groundbreaking Trio A, Rainer radically altered the vocabulary of dance.
In the mid 1960's, Rainer began incorporating short films into her dances. Over time, her works became increasingly personal and political, and in the early 1970s she turned from performance to filmmaking full time. She directed seven experimental features, investigating subjects like political power, terrorism, lesbian sexuality, and breast cancer, bringing the same agitated curiosity to the screen as she had to the stage. In 1997, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center organized retrospectives of her cinematic works.
After 25 years of filmmaking, Rainer was brought back to dance by Mikhail Baryshnikov, who commissioned her to make a new piece for his White Oak Dance Project. That work, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (2000), was recognized with a Bessie Award. Since then, she has choreographed RoS Indexical (2007); Spiraling Down (2008); Assisted Living: Good Sports 2 (2011); and Assisted Living: Do You Have Any Money? (2013). Her memoir, Feelings Are Facts: a Life, was published by MIT Press (2006), and a book of her poetry, Poems, was released by Badlands Unlimited (2012). In 2014, the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles presented a major retrospectiveof Rainer's dances and films. Currently, she is a contributing writer to Triple Canopy, and recently premiered a new dance The Concept of Dust, or How do you look when there's nothing left to move? (2015) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Rainer is the recipient of numerous awards, including two Guggenheim Fellowships, three Rockefeller Fellowships, a MacArthur Fellowship, a Wexner Prize, and in 2015, the Merce Cunningham Award. She currently lives and works in New York.
Dance/choreography ..... Performing Arts ..... Art and artists ..... Film Studies/Theory .....
Feminist/Women’s/Gender Studies ..... LGBT ..... Intellectual History ..... Jewish Studies ..... American Studies
"HIGHLY RECOMMENDED .… paints a sympathetic comprehensive portrait of one of the most original, influential artists of the twentieth century American avant-garde ... In 2000, age sixty-six, Rainer is commissioned by the legendary Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov to choreograph a work for his White Oak project ... The Baryshnikov benediction recruits Rainer into the ranks of the most important dancers of her time. Interwoven with a selection of Rainer’s dances and films in Jack Walsh’s generously paced documentary is commentary provided by Rainer herself as well as from cultural critics, artists, and dancers, who offer insightful reflections on Rainer’s creative process and the intellectual movements in which this most remarkable artist partook."
Rebecca Adler Schiff, College of Staten Island, City University of New York, for Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO)
"Like Yvonne Rainer, the artist whose body of work this film captivatingly distills, Feelings Are Facts is in elegant balance, illustrating through Rainer’s groundbreaking experiments a model for an artistic practice in which sociopolitical concerns inform and infuse aesthetic expressions. For those educators who see their classrooms as sites for nurturing an urgent critical inquiry and creative praxis, this is an invaluable instruction."
Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz, Assistant Professor, Film Studies, Dept of Media & Communication, Muhlenberg College
"Jack Walsh’s Feelings Are Facts: The LIfe of Yvonne Rainer is an informative and still provocative review of Rainer’s career and the ideas that motivated it. In this apparently effortless cinematic correlation of her art and her life through oral and visual history a series of productive tensions are explored: theatricality versus anti-theatricality, modern dance versus film, and text as it relates to image and movement. All this and more should lead young choreographers to think. The film should be valuable to undergraduate dance history classes but also for more theoretically-based graduate classes dealing with the avant-garde and the '60s."
Mark Franko, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Dance, Boyer College of Music and Dance
"Reclaims Yvonne Rainer as a multidisciplinary feminist artist who re-calibrated dance, film, and art by juxtaposing the everyday with the unfamiliar ... astutely guides the viewer through over half a century of minimalist, conceptual, postmodern, and feminist debates that resolutely insist on the connection between art and politics ... A beautifully rendered, landmark film illuminating Rainer's constant shuffling between art, choreography, film and feminism ... deeply considered meta-conversation with one of the most important feminist conjurers of the last 60 years."
Patricia R. Zimmermann, Professor of Screen Studies,
"A valuable tool for visual and performing arts, as well as women studies educators. It positions Rainer’s work within a wonderfully inclusive community of art practitioners who challenge existing forms and ideas; as it captures Rainer questioning and reflecting on her craft throughout her career."
Mary Buckley, Associate Professor Dance & Women's Leadership Program,
George Washington University
"With stunning, captivating footage of Rainer's dances and films, spanning decades, and with her own words and those of astute commentators to complement what we see, Feelings Are Facts: The Life of Yvonne Rainer brings this vital part of the history of the modern arts alive. We are not likely to ever get a better account of this pioneering figure's enormous contribution."
Bill Nichols, author of Introduction to Documentary
"Yvonne Rainer's influence on postwar American dance and avant-garde cinema has been incalculable and Jack Walsh’s documentary is a lively and accessible introduction to her life and work. The film expertly weaves Rainer’s own stories and reflections on her colorful life, beginning in the Beat Era in San Francisco in the 1950s, through the NY avant-garde Art World of the 1960’s, to the politically charged feminist art movements of the 1970’s and 80’s and Queer aesthetics in the present, with analysis of her prolific art practice by renowned collaborators, dance and cinema studies scholars and across a range of archival materials and excerpts from her dances and films ... gives a rare inside picture of the “why” and “how” of artistic innovation and experimentation and provides the perfect context for the study of Rainer’s work in a range of upper level and graduate courses in avant-garde film and dance, women in cinema, performance studies and contemporary art history."
Jeffrey Skoller, Associate Professor, Department of Film and Media Studies,
University of California, Berkeley
"... an excellent introduction to the work of one of our culture's most sensitive and intelligent weather vanes ... celebrates the aesthetic and political value of an approach to making art that refuses easy categorization in favor of giving form to the particular, felt qualities of everyday life in the late twentieth and early-twenty- first-centuries. I could see using the film in my Trends in
International Contemporary Art and History of Performance Art, 1900 to the Present courses."
Elise Archias, Assistant Professor of Art History, Author of The Concrete Body: Rainer, Schneemann, Acconci
University of Illinois, Chicago
"... essential viewing for students of film and dance or, for that matter, anyone interested in understanding how artists in the 1960s and 1970s managed to carve out a space for challenging cultural and political norms. I know I will use it classes on the history of film and of
radicalism in the US."
Victor Silverman, Professor of History and American Studies,
"Paints a rich and informative picture of one of America's most significant, intelligent, and protean artists of the past half century ... the film should find a natural place in courses about dance history, avant-garde and feminist film, the postwar American art world, and interrogations of the political and intermedial turns in cultural practices of the 1960s and 1970s."
Susan Felleman, Professor, Art History & Film and Media Studies
University of South Carolina
"Yvonne Rainer is a pioneering artist and feminist whose work challenges expectations at every turn, who battled sexism in the art world of the Sixties and navigated the upheavals of feminist theory and politics in the late 20th century. In the film, Rainer discusses the influences on her work and the unconventional and uncompromising choices she made throughout her life and career. The film is beautifully made, thought-provoking and engaging -- ideal for showing in both introductory and advanced women and gender studies courses."
Leslie Salzinger, Associate Professor, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies
University of California, Berkeley
"... superbly documents the power, grace, intelligence, and wit through which Yvonne Rainer's self-described "recalcitrant, undancerly body" transformed modern dance. A smart and lovely film, I'll teach Feelings Are Facts in my gender studies classes to illustrate the
"social choreographies" through which individual physical movements can inspire social and intellectual movements on a larger scale."
Susan Stryker, Associate Professor, Gender and Women's Studies,
University of Arizona.
Buy the Educational 2-DVD Set
for Colleges, Universities and Public Libraries
This 2-DVD set consists of the 82 min. feature documentary plus a bonus disc with over 160 minutes of additional interviews with Yvonne Rainer, Simone Forti, Steve Paxton, Carolee Schneemann, Lucinda Childs, Valda Setterfield, Douglas Crimp and Carrie Lambert-Beatty. Additionally, it includes the entire performance of Rainer's piece Spiraling Down. See important Terms and Conditions below. Buying with a purchase order? Contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terms & Conditions
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Jack is an award-winning independent filmmaker and former public television producer. During his tenure at San Francisco public television station KQED, he was Executive Producer of the series Independent View; the documentary and then one night: The Making of Dead Man Walking, and the series Season by Season that all had national PBS broadcasts. Among his independent public television credits are producer, Hope along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay, executive producer, Girl Trouble, and producer, Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria. His awards include two Emmys, three Golden Gate Awards from the San Francisco International Film Festival, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has screened at festivals internationally in addition to being in educational and home distribution.
Christine is an award-winning writer and producer specializing in mobile digital media. Her immersive experiences have appeared in museums and historic sites around the world, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, SFMOMA, the deYoung Museum, Colonial Williamsburg, the Alamo, and Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City. As a Producer at KQED, she developed Let’s Get Lost, San Francisco's first city-wide mobile documentary/art scavenger hunt. Her short films have played at festivals worldwide, and her 2001 documentary feature Demon of the Derby: The Ann Calvello Story screened on PBS, A&E, and CBS.
Behind-the-scenes production shots and photos from recent adventures