Feelings Are Facts: The Life of Yvonne Rainer
n 1966, Yvonne Rainer, a young dancer and choreographer from San Francisco, already a founding member of the vastly influential Judson Dance Theater, made an unconventional solo that became a decisive moment in the history of contemporary art. Director Jack Walsh’s inviting portrait of Yvonne Rainer begins with Trio A’s pivotal turn, which forced new ways of seeing performance and the body. The film then steps back to survey the cultural ground that gave rise not only to this revolutionary work but also to the equally radical dance and film career of Rainer, an endlessly resourceful intellect and feminist. Interweaving tantalizing performances with reflections from an impressive roster of friends and colleagues (including fellow Judson veterans Steve Paxton, Simone Forti, and Lucinda Childs, as well as Bay Area scholar B. Ruby Rich), the film features forthright interviews with Rainer herself, now 80 and still a vital, engaged artist. Covering everything from early influences like Merce Cunningham and John Cage to her rocky upbringing amid San Francisco anarchist and bohemian circles, coming out as a lesbian in her fifties, and her return to dance in 2000 at the behest of Mikhail Baryshnikov, this insightful documentary has as much to say about the politics of identity as it does about the always-related concerns of one of the preeminent artists of our time.