The choreography of U.S. dancer and choreographer David Rousseve is frequently charged with passion and a commitment to social themes, like racism, the AIDS epidemic, and women’s issues. He draws on his experience as a gay black man in making his often autobiographical work. Rousseve has commented that the more he delves into his cultural legacy as an African American and the struggle against racism, the more intersections he has found with the legacy of gay culture. Finding those points of intersection has been critical for Rousseve in his battle against homophobia within the African American community. A postmodernist, Rousseve uses a movement vocabulary for his dance company, RE-ALITY, that includes his African American roots, street and pop culture, and a robust physicality. His dances frequently incorporate spoken text, sometimes in the form of complete stories, sometimes as fragments, sometimes for rhythmic accompaniment. In his critically acclaimed Urban Scenes/Creole Dreams (1992), Rousseve entwines the contemporary experience of AIDS with an old woman’s account of love thwarted by racism. By bringing together the stories his grandmother told him about her youth as a sharecropper and his own stories as an urban youth, Rousseve finds recurring themes of love and desperation, discovering moments of kindness in the midst of alienation. While his topics are challenging, Rousseve does not wallow in despair, as he tempers his stories with humor and irony. However personal his dances are in plumbing his own past as source material, his stories resonate with our own, touching what Rousseve considers universal issues of the heart. Maura Keefe
Sadownick, Doug. “Clash Consciousness.” Advocate , August 27, 1991. See also African American Gay Culture; Dance and AIDS
Paul Rudolph belonged to the brilliant postwar generation of American designers (including his friend and rival Philip Johnson) that wiped historical styles out of American practice and naturalized functionalist modernism in the United States. Rudolph’s unique contribution was to demonstrate how modernist forms could express drama, power, and personal emotion. The Kentucky native received graduate training at Harvard University in the 1940s under the leading German émigré modernist in America, Walter Gropius. Unlike Gropius, Rudolph insisted that architecture was an art form as much as (or more than) the making of useful buildings. Beginning in the 1950s, and especially in his Art and Architecture Building at Yale University (1963), Rudolph turned
modernism’s functionalist method into experiments with strong, rough forms and complex, layered spaces. Rudolph headed Yale’s architecture school in the 1960s and was considered a leader of the so-called New Brutalist cadre of modernists. However, most of his post-1970 work was in Asia, as American architects distanced themselves from the uncompromising, heroically scaled vision of modernism that Rudolph espoused.