New York Times writer Brian Seibert was ready to take a class from Emily Coates in Yvonne Rainer choreography with his dance history students at Yale, but then, around the world, people started social-distancing to protect their health and that of others. With their class moving to an online alternative, Emily reached out to Yvonne to create a distance dance class that became a fairly simple exercise in movement, cues, and isolation. Yvonne calls it “Passing and Jostling While Being Confined to a Small Apartment.”
The choreography is based on Yvonne’s 1963 exhibition Terrain which she described as a sequence that “consists of six people moving back and forth on diagonals in the space, and when someone calls a number, it applies to a particular traveling movement and everyone performs that action across the space. Part of it was follow the leader but it was a ragbag of possibilities—where these teams would intersect or what obstacles they would have to contend with. It was pretty wild.
In his article for NYT, Brian explains that the movement is as simple as walking and standing still and shares that Yvonne’s rules come down to those two things. You can walk around or you can stand, and if you’re doing the exercise with more than one person, those roles can interact. Walking close to a standing person without touching them is “passing” and bumping into them is “jostling”. A “jostled” person is then free to move as well.
You can also interact with furniture and other objects in your home, sitting and standing, climbing onto your bed or couch, and more. Another suggestion Yvonne provided to Brian was that adding your own rules to the movement can keep you from getting bored. She suggested making them up based on sounds in your environment.
Depending on where you are and who you’re with “Passing and Jostling” can work for pretty much any space and any level of dance experience! Clear some space (or don’t!) and pass and jostle with your family, pets, or on your own.