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Acclaimed filmmaker Pearl Bowser (1931-2023) danced with her husband LeRoy Bowser, and Rudy Perez among a group of in total 15 in Elaine Summers' Dance for Lots of People at Concert #7 performed in the sanctuary of Judson Memorial Church 1963. She and Elaine kept in close contact and Pearl Bowser became one of the associate artists at Experimental Intermedia Foundation, and later an esteemed member of the board of Directors of the Kinetic Awareness® Center.
Pearl also kindly came to speak at Elaine's Memorial in 2015 and we had the pleasure to have her accompany President Charles Rosenberg of the Kinetic Awareness® Center to the screening to the showing of the newly digitized edit of this filmdance at the Anthology Film Archives courtesy of Trisha Brown Dance Company. Do listen to her talk about how Elaine got her husband LeRoy to dance, simply because she liked the way he walked:
Everyone was delighted when news came that Pearl got yet another moment of fame and a retrospective at the Film Forum and this special tribute was organised for her and her work as part of the New York Jewish Film Festival in 2022.
Please also read this obituary of Pearl Bowser by New York Women in Film and Television who also kindly helped digitizations of Elaine's works with grants in the past. Visit Wikipedia for many more details of Pearl Bowser's rich and successful career.
- New York Times
- Roger Ebert (written by Chaz Ebert)
In 1963 he created his first work there, Take Your Alligator With You, a duet with Elaine Summers. Like Summers' Dance for Lots of People with Pearl Bowser and himself among the 15 performers, this duet was first performed at Concert #7 (later with Elisabeth Keen) The photographs of this duet found their way into the recent exhibition at MoMA Judson Dance Theater The Work is Never Finished (catalog, p.150ff)
Elaine credited Rudy Perez as one the first colleagues at Judson to see her seminal Dance for Carola in rehearsal, also in 1963. At the end of the dance she said he started jumping up and down with joy, after she had just taken ca. 15min to move extremely slowly from standing to squatting and back again. Perhaps because it fit his own search for very sparse and functional, very well-informed choreographic expression.
We were very lucky to have him briefly attend the online celebration A Birthday for Elaine 2021 via telephone.
Sadly the intended interview for the Elaine Summers Legacy Project, never came off the ground as intended.
Rudy Perez is survived by a brother, Richard, and his longtime partner, James P. Kovacs.
As Wendy Perron stated in her obituary, Rudy Perez -like Yvonne Rainer and so many others- realised early on that his specific body did not fit the expectations of dance at the time. So, in spirit with the experimentations at Judson, incl. Elaine's genuine interest in very diverse bodies (echoed by Pearl Bowser in her memorial) he and his colleagues all created their own dance. Rudy Perez made his own impact and created a notable legacy, not in the least in the number of his former students and collaborators, including Sarah Swenson. A memorial is planned for April/May 2024.
To read more about the impact Rudy Perez made on dance, and his long and successful career, please visit his website:
- website of Rudy Perez by Karen Goodman
- Los Angeles Times
- New York Times
A closer historical look reveals that despite more general appearances, also at the time, Judson Dance Theater was never entirely "white", also not on the side of dancers and choreographers in the group. It makes me especially proud that so many non-white members at Judson, like Rudy Perez, Edward Bharton, and Pearl Bowser chose to work closely with Elaine Summers during and after that period. May they Rest in Power.
Thomas Körtvélyessy, October 2023
Artistic Estate of Elaine Summers facilitated by the Kinetic Awareness® Center, Inc. a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation dedicated to research and development of the Kinetic Arts & Sciences with special thanks to the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
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