The Territory Between

Simone Forti is a trailblazer whose explorations over the last 40 years can only inspire awe. In the late 50s she worked with Anna Halprin, who sought to substitute more natural, intuitive motions for the codified movements of, say, Martha Graham. (When Forti later took classes at the Graham studio, she didn’t last long–as she wrote in her 1974 Handbook in Motion, “I would not hold my stomach in.”) Her first “happening” in New York, at the Reuben Gallery in 1960, featured two games with well-established rules but uncertain outcomes. See-Saw placed Yvonne Rainer and artist Robert Morris (Forti’s husband at the time) at opposite ends of an eight-foot plank; while Morris read from Art News, Rainer threw herself around and shrieked. In Rollers audience members used ropes to swing around two boxes on wheels, each holding a singing performer. Forti taught nursery school, learned raga singing from Pandit Pran Nath, and studied the movements of bears and elephants in zoos. After attending the Woodstock festival in 1969 she “dropped out,” living in communes and taking a lot of drugs. When she returned to choreography in the 70s she began to focus on what Sally Banes in Terpsichore in Sneakers calls the three cornerstones of her later work: crawling, animal movements, and circling. But despite her eminence as a teacher and performance artist, Forti onstage is charming and modest in the extreme, a woman with dirt-stained feet and brown, sinewy arms–obviously a gardener–who can imitate an earthworm and make people roar with laughter. Her logomotion technique, which she’ll teach in workshops following her performances, is based on a natural flow of words and movements improvised on set subjects; for the final weekend of the Link’s Hall series “The Territory Between,” shared with the Fluid Measure Performance Company, Forti will perform The Jackdaw Songs, Dance, and Animation. Link’s Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 773-281-0824. Through March 12: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. $10. Note: Following the festival, Simone Forti will lead a two-week workshop, “Logomotion,” that will culminate in performances the weekend of March 24. The workshop, which meets 9 AM to noon Mondays-Fridays from March 13 through 24, costs $375. In addition, movement improvisation workshops are offered Wednesday and Thursday, March 15 and 16, from 6 to 8 PM and Saturday, March 18, from 2 to 5 PM; registration for these workshops is $30-$40. Call the Link’s Hall box office to register.

–Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bill Arnold.