Elaine Summers

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Elaine Summers (born February 20, 1925 in Perth , Australia - † December 27, 2014 in New York City ) was an American choreographer and filmmaker and was co-founder of the Judson Dance Theater in New York City in 1962 .

Summers was a pioneering developer in the field of interaction between dance and film after 1950. She also works on the exchange between dance and other areas such as public space, working life, science, etc.

This work includes dance, improvisation (dance scores), and especially film projections during live dance, as well as dance films and film dances (films that are conceived and experienced as dances). Often the entire room is included in the performance.

In the field of dance technique and body work (e) Summers works through her studies with Carola Speads and Charlotte Selver in the extended tradition of Elsa Gindler . The name of their approach is Kinetic Awareness , also called The Ball Work .

Live and act

Summers was born in Australia but grew up in Boston , Massachusetts . She moved to New York City in the 1950s. There she co-founded the group that would later become famous under the name Judson Dance Theater . Colleagues in this group included Yvonne Rainer , Trisha Brown , Steve Paxton and Lucinda Childs .

In the late 1960s, Summers founded the Experimental Intermedia Foundation in New York. With her own professional dance group, the Elaine Summers Dance & Film Company, she has performed widely in galleries and in public spaces in the United States (including with Energy Changes at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and with the Illuminated Workingman in Buffalo, State New York). Furthermore, she went on several tours, including in Italy, England and Austria (Vienna). In 2007 the performance of her new play Hidden Forest took place, produced and as part of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival.

Elaine Summers most recently lived and worked in New York, among other things on her Internet concept work Skytime . She died of a fall in the New York borough of Manhattan on December 27, 2014 at the age of 89.

Kinetic awareness

Kinetic Awareness ( kinetic = movement , awareness = awareness , attention ) is the name, goal and method of this work.

It is about consciously exploring your own movement possibilities and expanding them according to your own interests. Hollow rubber balls of various sizes are also used, which are positioned under the relevant body part. The resulting concentrated movements of the joints in several directions is simplified and, at the same time, a self-controlled massage of the tissue is made possible. A particularly deep relaxation is made possible and (unconsciously) retained tension ( frozen tension ) is available again for the organism.

In the first phase, the body is explored in this way, each individual part of the body is examined and trained for its own articulation possibilities. In the following phases of this work, this awareness is applied to several parts of the body at the same time, whole-body systems such as breathing and blood / lymphatic circulation are explored. In the third phase a maximum of speed is developed at the lowest possible voltage, in the fourth voltage level controlled and differentiated at will. In the fifth phase, there is an exchange with other dancers / movers and the environment.

Elaine Summers founded the Kinetic Awareness® Center , an organization for research into and education in movement arts and sciences, in 1987 with teachers she trained . This organization also trains teachers who are authorized to teach Kinetic Awareness. Most of the teachers work in the United States and some in Europe.


  • Banes, Sally, Democracy's Body. Judson Dance Theater 1962-64. MIT Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1981.
  • Wolf Perez, Edith M., Elaine Summers. Three chapters of a dance career , tanz Affiche, Austria, issue December 1993 / January 1994
  • Saltonstall, Ellen, Kinetic Awareness, Discovering Your Bodymind , Kinetic Awareness Center, New York, 1988
  • Wooster, Anne-Sargent, Elaine Summers: Moving to Dance , The Drama Review (Journal of the Performance Studies Department at New York University), 1980.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Margalit Fox: Elaine Summers, Who Meshed Dance and Film, Dies at 89. In: The New York Times, January 15, 2015 (English, accessed January 16, 2015).