Yvonne Rainer

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Rainer dancing Trio A (1967), 1978.
Born November 24, 1934(1934-11-24)
San Francisco, California, United States
Lives in California and New York
Web UbuWeb Film, UbuWeb Sound, Aaaaarg, Wikipedia, Academia.edu, Open Library
Rainer at rehearsal for Parts of Some Sextets (1965), New York, 1965. Photo: Al Giese. [1]

Yvonne Rainer (1934) is an American dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker, whose work in these disciplines is regarded as challenging and experimental. Rainer currently lives and works in California and New York.



  • Hand Movie, 1966, 5:00, b&w, silent, 8mm.
  • Volleyball (Foot Film), 1967, 10:00 b&w, silent, 16mm.
  • Rhode Island Red, 1968, 10:00, b&w, silent, 16mm.
  • Trio Film, 1968, 13:00, b&w, silent, 16mm.
  • Line, 1969, 10:00, b&w, silent, 16mm.
  • Five Easy Pieces, 1969, 48 min. Features five, all of the short films Rainer made prior to her first feature-length film, many of which were incorporated into her performance works. Subjects include the perpetual motion of a chicken coop in Rhode Island Red and Steve Paxton and Becky Arnold’s nude interaction with a large inflatable ball in Trio Film. [2]
  • Trio A, 1978, 10:30, b&w, silent, 16mm. [3]
  • After Many a Summer Dies the Swan: Hybrid, 2002, 31:00, color, stereo. Performance footage of Rainer’s dance After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (2000), originally commissioned by Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, is recast in this film as a rumination on the art, philosophy, and society of fin-desiècle Vienna. [4]
  • A Woman Who...: Selected Works of Yvonne Rainer, ed. Charles Atlas, 2 DVD, 2005, 2:11:00. Contains five early films, a historically important dance and a recent work by Rainer, and a documentary portrait by Charles Atlas. [5]
  • Lives of Performers, 1972, 90 min. Excerpt. Rainer's first feature-length film incorporates rehearsal footage from Performance (1972) and photographs from Grand Union Dreams (1971). The film depicts the real and fictional lives of a group of performers and their choreographer/director, ending with a series of tableaux vivants based on G.W. Pabst's 1929 film Pandora’s Box. [6]
  • Film About a Woman Who..., 1974, 105 min. A landmark of feminist cinema, this work subverts nearly every convention of narrative film while unfolding "the poetically licensed story of a woman who finds it difficult to reconcile certain external facts with her image of her own perfection." [7]
  • Kristina Talking About Pictures, 1976, 90 min. Ostensibly the story of a lion tamer who moves from Budapest to New York to become a choreographer, this film incorporates both fictional and autobiographical elements, while also expanding to touch on global political issues such as pollution. [8]
  • Journeys from Berlin/1971, 1979, 125 min. Excerpt. This meditation on political radicalism, terrorism, feminism, and psychoanalysis was prompted by Rainer’s experiences living in West Berlin in 1976 and 1977. It stars film theorist Annette Michelson as the psychoanalytic subject. The diary passages read in this film are from Rainer’s own teenage diary, on display within the main exhibition. [9]
  • The Man Who Envied Women, 1985, 125 min. Structured around the breakup of a relationship, this often comical film presents a portrait of issues facing the New York cultural world in the 1980s, including gentrification in SoHo and the influence of poststructuralist theory within academia.[10]
  • Privilege, 1990, 105 min. The subject of aging and menopause becomes cause for a multifaceted analysis of inequality and discrimination around issues of age, gender, race, and socioeconomic status. Interviews and staged scenes continually blur the line between documentary and fiction. [11]
  • MURDER and murder, 1996, 113 min. This film follows the semiautobiographical story of Doris, who falls in love with a woman for the first time in her early sixties, is diagnosed with breast cancer, and must undergo a mastectomy. The film is a reflection on lesbian sexuality, women’s health, and the everyday negotiations of romantic partnership. [12]
  • The Yvonne Rainer Collection, DVD. A collection of seven films from 1972-1996. [13]

Sound recordings[edit]


  • "Three Distributions", Aspen 8: "The Fluxus Issue", ed. Dan Graham, New York: Aspen Communications, Fall 1970-Winter 1971.
  • Work 1961-73, Halifax, Nova Scotia: The Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and New York: New York University Press, 1974, 338 pp.
  • The Films of Yvonne Rainer, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989. Film scripts of Rainer's work and essays on them by B. Ruby Rich, Bérénice Reynaud, Mitchell Rosenbaum, and Patricia White.
  • A Woman Who...: Essays, Interviews, Scripts, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press (PAJ Books), 1999, x+437 pp, OL. Review: Mills (TDR). [14]
    • Une femme qui ... écrits, entretiens, essais critiques, trans. Françoise Senger, Dijon: Les Presses du réel, and Zürich: JRP Ringier, 2008, 275 pp, IA. (French)
  • A Woman Who...: Selected Works of Yvonne Rainer, Video Data Bank, 2005. DVD booklet featuring a detailed biography, bibliography and videography of Rainer, and essays by Bill Horrigan ("After Many a Summer Dies the Swan: Hybrid"), Carrie Lambert ("Rainer Variations"), and Sally Banes ("Yvonne Rainer: The Aesthetics of Denial"). [15]
  • Poems, New York: Badlands Unlimited, 2011.
  • Revisions: Essays by Apollo Musagète, Yvonne Rainer, and Others, intro. Gregg Bordowitz, ed. Rachel Churner, no place press, 2020, 112 pp. Publisher. Distributor.

Interviews, conversations[edit]

Film documentaries[edit]

  • Rainer Variations, dir. Charles Atlas, 2002, 42 min. This documentary about Rainer’s life and career mixes archival footage with new interviews. A series of doublings occurs, in which other performers also act and reenact the interviews. A highlight is Rainer’s attempt to teach “Martha Graham” (played by choreographer and Graham impersonator Richard Move) how to dance Trio A. [18]
  • Feelings Are Facts: The Life of Yvonne Rainer, dir. Jack Walsh, 2015, 86 min. [19] [20]


  • Liza Béar, Yvonne Rainer, Willoughby Sharp, "Yvonne Rainer", Avalanche Magazine 5, Summer 1972, pp 46-59.
  • Yvonne Rainer: Radical Juxtapositions, 1961-2002, ed. Sid Sachs, Philadelphia: University of the Arts, 2003, 151 pp. Catalogue. [21]
  • Catherine Wood, Yvonne Rainer: The Mind is a Muscle, London: Afterall (One Work), 2007, 118 pp.
  • Carrie Lambert-Beatty, Being Watched: Yvonne Rainer and the 1960s, MIT Press, 2008, 382 pp, IA. Introduction. Publisher. Treating aesthetic issues such as minimalism, dance, documentation, and the problem of politics in Rainer’s work, the book is also driven by the problem of how artists responded, often at unconscious levels, to the burgeoning media culture of the 1960s. Reviews: Bowman (Art Book), Rokem (TDR), Burton (CAA).
  • Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti, and Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955-1972, eds. Ninotchka Bennahum, Wendy Perron, and Bruce Robertson, University of California Press, 2017, 191 pp. Catalogue for exh. held at Art, Design & Architecture Museum, UC Santa Barbara, 14 Jan-30 Apr 2017. With contributions from Simone Forti, John Rockwell, and Morton Subotnick.

Recent exhibitions[edit]