If you're interested in Plato, you're reading the wrong book. If you're interested in difficult childhoods, sexual misadventures, aesthetics, cultural history, and the reasons that a club sandwich and other meals—including breakfast—have remained in the memory of the present writer, keep reading.
—from Feelings Are Facts
In this memoir, dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer traces her personal and artistic coming of age. Feelings Are Facts (the title comes from a dictum by Rainer's one-time psychotherapist) uses diary entries, letters, program notes, excerpts from film scripts, snapshots, and film frame enlargements to present a vivid portrait of an extraordinary artist and woman in postwar America.
Rainer tells of a California childhood in which she was farmed out by her parents to foster families and orphanages, of sexual and intellectual initiations in San Francisco and Berkeley, and of artistic discoveries and accomplishments in the New York City dance world. Rainer studied with Martha Graham (and heard Graham declare, "when you accept yourself as a woman, you will have turn-out"—that is, achieve proper ballet position) and Merce Cunningham in the late 1950s and early 1960s, cofounded the Judson Dance Theater in 1962 (dancing with Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton, David Gordon, and Lucinda Childs), hobnobbed with New York artists including Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Morris (her lover and partner for several years), and Yoko Ono, and became involved with feminist and anti-war causes in the 1970s and 1980s. Rainer writes about how she constructed her dances—including The Mind Is a Muscle and its famous section, Trio A, as well as the recent After Many a Summer Dies the Swan—and about turning from dance to film and back to dance. And she writes about meeting her longtime partner Martha Gever and discovering the pleasures of domestic life.
The mosaic-like construction of Feelings Are Facts recalls the composition-by-juxtaposition of Rainer's work in film and dance, displaying prismatic variations from what she calls her "reckless past" for our amazement and appreciation.
About the Author
Choreographer and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer was one of the founders of the Judson Dance Theater in 1962. Her autobiography, Feelings Are Facts, was published by The MIT Press in 2006.
“In a matter-of-fact style, she explores the various relationships of her life, analyzes herself and the artistic process, and examines her experimental work in dance (e.g., The Mind Is a Muscle) as well as the milieu of the early Sixties (Robert Rauschenberg, Yoko Ono, and Andy Warhol all make appearances). This unique view of the creative environment and portrait of the artist as a young woman is recommended...”—Library Journal
“Particularly fascinating are her descriptions of her intentions in creating certain dances and the struggle between directing dancers and allowing improvisation to color the work. The explorations of the Judson crew, including Rainer, continue to influence contemporary dance, and Rainer's chronicle of her journey as an artist is a winning addition to the literature about this groundbreaking era.”—Publishers Weekly
“From her first dance in 1961 through her performances and films of the 1970s and 1980s to her recent return to choreography, Yvonne Rainer has subjected conventional forms and genres to unexpected pressures and variations. This is no less the case with her new memoir, and yet reading it we are absorbed as if by a gripping novel and riveted by an essential account of an era.”
—Douglas Crimp, Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History, University of Rochester, and author of Melancholia and Moralism
“The same bracing honesty, sly wit, human insight, and formal brilliance that have made Yvonne Rainer among the most influential figures of her generation make Feelings are Facts an irresistible pleasure. The book is both a moving personal memoir and a fascinating cultural history; it reveals the complex relationship between the emotional life and creative work of a remarkable artist during a period of seismic shifts in American culture and society.”
—Nicholas Baume, Chief Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
“A master choreographer and filmmaker, Rainer now demonstrates her impressive expertise at writing, inventing and performing brilliantly in a new genre: the meta-auto-biography. Rainer's memoir exudes the same rigorous intelligence and imaginative whimsy that marked her dances. Her vivid descriptions of the everyday infuse history with physicality, illuminating with great precision and insight one body's journey through the second half of the twentieth century.”
—Susan Leigh Foster, Professor, Department of World Arts and Cultures, University of California, Los Angeles