Yvonne Rainer was born in San Francisco in 1934. She trained as a modern dancer in New York from l957 and began to choreograph her own work in l960. She was one of the founders of the Judson Dance Theater in l962, the genesis of a movement that proved to be a vital force in modern dance in the following decades. Some of her better known dances and theater pieces are Terrain (1963), The Mind is a Muscle (1968), Continuous Project-Altered Daily (1969-70), and This is the story of a woman who... (1973), and After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (2000, commissioned by the Baryshnikov Dance Foundation).
Since 1972 Rainer has completed seven feature-length films, beginning with Lives of Performers and more recently Privilege (1990, winner of the Filmmakers' Trophy at the l99l Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, and the Geyer Werke Prize at the l99l International Documentary Film Festival in Munich), and MURDER and murder (1996, winner of the Teddy Award at the 1997 Berlin Film Festival and Special Jury Award at the 1999 Miami Lesbian and Gay Film Festival).
Noteworthy for a wry humor and emotional candor brought to bear on the everyday intersections of private and public life, Rainers films deal with a number of aesthetic and social issues, such as melodrama, menopause, racism, political violence, sexual identity, and notions of disease. Her films have been shown at major international film festivals. Her most recent book A Woman Who...: Essays, Interviews, Scripts was published by Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. In 2002 the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery in Philadelphia mounted a Rainer exhibition consisting of video installations, film screenings, and dance photos and memorabilia.
Rainer is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, including two Guggenheim Fellowships and a MacArthur Fellowship.