About this publication

At The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (The Center), we envision greater Philadelphia as a widely recognized hub for dynamic cultural experiences, and a place in which creative expression and interpretation, as well as the exchange of ideas, are vital forces in public life. Toward this end, we invest in bold, imaginative arts and heritage projects that showcase the city’s cultural vitality and enhance public life. We also advance the arts and heritage fields by encouraging inquiry among, and providing capacity building opportunities for, our constituents, as well as by sharing and publishing information about adventurous projects or practices. These knowledge-based activities are informed by and integrally related to our work and experience as cultural grantmakers.

A Steady Pulse: Restaging Lucinda Childs, 1963–78 evolved out of our research agenda. Specifically, it advances two complementary lines of Center inquiry. The first is an ongoing investigation into various disciplinary and trans-disciplinary modalities of artistic practice: Artists’ work is foundational to the Center as evidenced through both our Fellowships program and project support for individuals. The second concerns the concepts of restaging, reconstruction, and reenactment, an interest of ours spurred by the number of proposals we have seen that involve the re-presentation of historic work. Among these was the restaging of Lucinda Childs’ Dance (1979), which was awarded a Center grant in 2010. Inspired by this extraordinary performance of an older work, and eager to provide effective capacity-building opportunities for local artists, the Center supported local dancers through advanced training by Lucinda Childs and her creative collaborator Ty Boomershine. This training led to the restaging of the dances presented in this publication, all of which were selected by Childs and critical to her development. Separately but concurrently, we commissioned a series of essays and interviews on restaging for our website, exploring the concept not just in dance but also in heritage, music (re-performance), theater, and the visual arts.

These two strands of our inquiry intersect in A Steady Pulse, which is about both practice and scholarship. It pairs documentation of the performances in Philadelphia with critical texts about Childs’ development as an artist and her and Boomershine’s attitude and approach to restaging. As noted on the home page, it also includes a plentiful archive of photographs, flyers, and programs—most of it from Childs’ personal collection—as well as the choreographer’s own scores, one of which has been fully animated. Our hope is that in addition to serving as a valuable resource for future scholars of postmodern dance, A Steady Pulse will contribute significantly to the ongoing dialogue around how we, as a society, value and preserve the legacies of our most significant artists.

Finally, A Steady Pulse is the fourth and final installment in the danceworkbook series produced by the Center. The danceworkbook series establishes a body of reference material concerned with interrogating a variety of choreographic processes—stages of creation and development that form the “back story” to the finished dances that audiences see in performance. Preceding volumes in the series are: BRAIDING / UNBRAIDING / REBRAIDING: Headlong Dance Theater, which examines artistic process in collaboration with Tere O’Connor; BELONGING AND SOLO: Roko Kawai: An Artist’s Workbook; and Susan Foster! Susan Foster! Three Performed Lectures. The danceworkbooks are part of a larger Center publishing effort, which includes a number of print anthologies, including What Makes a Great Exhibition?, Letting Go? Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World, and Pigeons on the Grass Alas: Conversations with Curators about the Field.


This publication, and the dance reconstructions it presents, was many years in the making. Given this long gestation period, I want to extend our warmest and most heartfelt appreciation, first and foremost, to the extraordinary and brilliant Lucinda Childs. She has been the source of inspiration for all involved, as well as the driving force behind the restagings documented here, and a generous collaborator throughout the process. Her artistic associate, Ty Boomershine, played a central role as well, as did the nearly dozen dancers who performed the reconstructed works. Marie Brown, Bethany Formica, and Ellie Goudie-Averill were among the first cast of performers to help originate the restaging of the works; Megan Bridge, Nora Gibson, Janet Pilla, Gabrielle Revlock, Michele Tantoco, and Annie Wilson were the dancers in the final performances in Philadelphia (October 2013). We applaud their exceptional efforts.

The dance writer and historian Suzanne Carbonneau has been another key collaborator, contributing research, analysis, and content development for “The Art of Refusal: Lucinda Childs’ Dances in Silence, 1973–78,” the central essay in this publication, which is enriched by her insights. Jorge Cousineau meticulously oversaw the video documentation of the reconstructed dances and created the mesmerizing and illuminating animation of Melody Excerpt. Andrew LeClair and Adam Lucas are responsible for the elegant design of this online workbook. Special thanks to artists Steve Paxton and Yvonne Rainer for taking the time to read their letters to Lucinda Childs out loud for us, and to the Baryshnikov Arts Center for the use of their studios to record them. Derek Hachkowski, Carolyn Schlecker, and Nick Stuccio of FringeArts, as well as Donna Faye Burchfield, Kristel Baldoz, and Bren Thomas from The University of the Arts’ School of Dance, assisted greatly in the presentation of the reconstructed dances to the public.

Additionally, this project would not have been possible without the support of the following people and organizations: John Philips, professor, The University of the Arts School of Film; Miriam Giguere, director of the dance department of the School of Performing Arts at Drexel University; Madison Cario and Marie Gallagher at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts; Norton Owen, director of preservation at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival; the Northeast Document Conservation Center; Gregory L. Bain; Dominic Chacon; Jeanne Ruddy and Judy Williams at the Performance Garage; dance critic Marcia B. Siegel, whom we invited to interview Lucinda Childs in Philadelphia early in the process; Linda Brumbach, president and Susannah Gruder, executive assistant at Pomegranate Arts; and Andy Owens, who was involved in preliminary design discussions.

On the Center’s staff, I highly commend Bill Bissell, Director of Performance, and Josie Smith, Program Specialist in Performance, for conceiving of this publication and for their extraordinary commitment and dedication over the years in seeing it through to completion—painstaking work that was in addition to their primary responsibilities in administering one of our granting areas. This workbook has been a labor of love for them, and makes a great contribution to our work here, to the field at large, and to anyone interested in how works of performance art live on and are translated across time. Additionally, I would like to especially thank Peter Nesbett and Laura Silverman for their many editorial and administrative contributions and their good grace in helping to shepherd A Steady Pulse to completion. I’m also grateful to those other current and former staff members who variously contributed to the realization of this publication.

None of the activities at the Center would be possible without the generous support and powerful vision of our funder, The Pew Charitable Trusts. It is our privilege to work on Pew’s behalf in enhancing the cultural life of our region. At Pew, I wish to acknowledge in particular my colleagues Michael Dahl, Senior Vice President of The Philadelphia Program; and Doug Bohr, Director of The Philadelphia Program. Their unwavering belief in the value and impact of the Center’s activities forward and sustain our endeavors.

Paula Marincola, Executive Director

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia


Published by
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
1608 Walnut Street, 18th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103

© 2015 The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia

All rights reserved under international copyright conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, printout, digital file, or any other information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the rights holders. Credits and copyrights for video and film documentation of performances not produced by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, or photographs, are acknowledged throughout this publication. The copyright for “On Judson” has been retained by its author. Every attempt has been made to contact all copyright holders, and this material has been used with the permission or in accordance with fair use. If you believe you are a copyright holder and you were not contacted, please call the Center at 267.350.4900.

Editor and Project Director: Bill Bissell
Project Research Coordinator and Archivist: Josie Smith
Supervising Editor: Peter Nesbett
Concert video filming in Philadelphia: Jorge Cousineau, Bob Finkelstein, Les Rivera, and Haylee Warner
Film editing and animation: Jorge Cousineau
Design and development: LeClair Lucas, New York