At the time 9 Evenings
was performed, Yvonne Rainer was considered to be one of the most promising choreographers of the Judson Dance Theater, which she found. Several years later, in the mid-1970s, she would give up dance in order to devote herself to film.
Rainer was far from being a technology enthusiast, and Carriage Discreteness
is the only one of her choreographed pieces to incorporate technology into its very structure. There was a single precedent for this: At My Body's House
In that piece she used a microphone attached to her throat to amplify the sounds of her breathing. This wireless device was the work of Billy Klüver. Rainer originally wanted to amplify her heartbeat, but the technology required for such a feat was not yet sufficiently developed. (2)
The premises of Carriage Discreteness
are to be sought not so much in an interest in technology as in a desire to demystify movement, particularly by making use of objects and by bringing professional performers together with non-professionals. In Room Service
, performed in 1964 in Philadelphia, two dancers carried around a mattress, an object that would become a leitmotiv in Rainer’s future dance pieces: There was, she said, “something ludicrous and satisfying about lugging that bulking object around, removing it from the scene and re-introducing it. No stylisation needed. It seemed to be so self-contained an act as to require no artistic tampering or justification.” (3)
Objects gave rise to specific efforts and movements in accordance with their size and weight. Just as important as the dancers, they were one of the potential paths to the “neutral doer” (4)
that Rainer was seeking.
The juxtaposition of two different continuities is another leitmotiv in Rainer’s choreography, and one owing to the influence of John Cage. Thus, in Terrain
(1963), movement is envisioned apart from the stories spoken by the dancers. The same concern can be found again in Carriage Discreteness
, where the pre-programmed events are not correlated in any way with the dancers’ movements. In this case, it was the program that exerted a step-by-step control over one of the two continuities.