Deborah Hay: Artist Talk

Using the Sky
Tue Nov 10, 2015


Join us for a conversation with internationally esteemed artist, Deborah Hay. Hay will read selections from Using the Sky to supplement even more recent thoughts about the body beyond what it can do. A video of her work will be projected at the same time.

Using the Sky, her fourth book, was recently published by Routledge Books. It is an unfolding of a trove of notes and journal entries that provide insight into Hay’s extensive legacy and her profound influence on current conversations in contemporary performance. Hay began her career in NYC in the early 1960s. In five decades at the vanguard of choreographic experimentation she has helped redefine the field of dance with her revolutionary work and insightful publications. Hay, who has lived in Austin since 1976, is regarded as one of the most influential contemporary choreographers.


In 1976 Deborah Hay moved to Austin, Texas. She instituted an annual four-month workshop that culminated in large group public performances throughout Austin and from these group pieces she distilled her solo dances. Her book, Lamb at the Altar: The Story of a Dance (Duke University Press, 1994), documents the unique creative process that defined these Austin-based works. My Body,The Buddhist, Hay’s next book, was published by Wesleyan University Press, in 2000. It is an introspective series of reflections on the major lessons of life that she has learned from her body while dancing.

In the late 1990’s Hay focused almost exclusively on solo dances performing them in the US, Europe, and Australia. From 1998 through 2012, first on Whidbey Island in Washington state and then at the Findhorn Community Foundation in Findhorn, Scotland, Hay conducted 14 annual Solo Performance Commissioning Projects. A film about this groundbreaking experiment, Turn Your F*^king Head, was made by Becky Edmunds in 2012. Rutledge Books has produced and is distributing this 1-hour documentary.

In October 2009 Deborah received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Dance from the Theater Academy in Helsinki, Finland and she became one of the 21 American performing artists to receive the inaugural and groundbreaking 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award.

Hay’s first museum installation, Perception Unfolds: Looking at Deborah Hay’s Dance, was curated by Annette Carlozzi for the Blanton Museum in Austin, TX. The installation also travelled to Yale Art Museum in New Haven, CN.

Hay, in collaboration with Laurie Anderson, created an evening length work Figure a Sea, for 21 dancers that was commissioned by the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm, Sweden. It premiered September 24 – 26 in Stockholm.