Archives Access: Untitled performance by Deborah Hay (1977)

@ 3:00pm-4:00pm

Join us for an online screening and discussion surrounding a performance by choreographer and performer Deborah Hay at Western Front on August 18, 1977, filmed and edited by Jane Ellison. In a 1980 administrative questionnaire, Hay described the piece as “a day in the process of the development of a solo performance as an expression of total awareness.” However, upon recently viewing the work for the first time in 44 years, she reevaluated that “absolutely everything in this document reveals absolutely everything about why my work has taken the polar opposite direction.”

Hay will join choreographer, composer, performer, singer, writer, educator, and Feldenkrais Method practitioner Miguel Gutierrez, and curator and producer Michèle Steinwald, in a conversation curated and moderated by Western Front project archivist Abigail Sebaly, who transferred the video to its current digital format. As an intergenerational free-form conversation among friends and colleagues, the discussion may address such topics as re-encountering a past artistic self through archival documentation, and how dancing transforms through time and aging.

Free to attend. The live discussion will be hosted on Zoom on Thursday, July 8, from 3-4 p.m. PT (6 p.m. ET). Closed captioning will be available. Please register here.

Following registration, a Vimeo link to Deborah Hay’s work will be emailed to you on Thursday, July 8 at 10 a.m. PT and will remain available to view until Sunday, July 11 at 10 p.m. PT. If you are unable to attend the discussion, but would still like to view the video, please email for the Vimeo link, available for the same duration, July 8 through July 11.

This screening and conversation is the first in a series of new engagements with Western Front’s archival collections, made possible through the support of Library and Archives Canada’s Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP). Over the next two and a half years, the DHCP grant will enable Sebaly to complete the digitization of the Western Front video archives – a collection of over 1500 tapes, captured in a variety of unique and rare formats, that document Western Front’s history as one of Canada’s leading artist-run centres for contemporary art and new music.

Artist Biographies

Choreographer and performer Deborah Hay began her career in the early 1960s with the Judson Dance Theatre. In her five decades at the vanguard of choreographic experimentation, she has helped redefine the field of dance with her revolutionary work and influential publications – in particular, Lamb at the Altar (Duke University Press, 1994), as well as My Body, the Buddhist (Wesleyan University Press, 2000), and Using the Sky (Wesleyan University Press, 2019). Other recognition includes an Honorary Doctorate from the Theater Academy in Helsinki (2009), and in 2015, France’s Minister of Culture and Communication awarded Hay the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2019, Tanz Im August presented RE-Perspective Deborah Hay, Works from 1968 to the Present, a retrospective of Hay’s work  that included two premieres.

Miguel Gutierrez is a choreographer, composer, performer, singer, writer, educator, and Feldenkrais Method practitioner based in Lenapehoking, aka Brooklyn, New York. He has been called the “love-child of Chita Rivera and Yvonna Rainer” by David Parker in Dance Magazine. His work has been presented in New York, across the United States, and internationally in over 60 cities. He is a 2014 Whitney Biennial Artist and a recipient of a 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award. Recent projects include This Bridge Called My Ass, a performance that bends tropes of Latinidad to identify new relationships to content and form; and SADONNA: The Brown Ambition Tour, where he re-interprets Madonna’s upbeat songs as sad anthems. Currently he is working on wearing the masc_k, a new album of original music; THE THINGS YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE, an anthology of his writing; and Are You For Sale? a podcast that looks at the ethical entanglements in dance-making and philanthropy.

Michèle Steinwald is a feminist, DIY, artist-centered, pseudo-forensic, embodied, community-driven cultural organizer. She holds an MA from the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance and was published in Curating Live Arts: Critical Perspectives, Essays, and Conversations on Theory and Practice (Berghahn Books, 2018). Committed to social justice in the arts, she has researched and facilitated original sessions at conferences and gatherings such as APAP (2018 & 2019) in partnership with American Realness, Interrarium at Banff Centre (2018), National Performance Network (2017 and 2018), Arts Midwest (2011 and 2014), and DanceUSA (2012 and 2013, 2014 host). Steinwald is Canadian, working in the United States as an independent curator, dramaturg, and occasional writer.