MoMA at NGV: 'Huddle' performed for first time in Australia

Image of dancers performing Huddle.
Simone Forti; American, born Italy 1935; Huddle 1961; performance, 10 min; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Committee on Media and Performance Art Funds, 2015; © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Photo © Yi-Chun Wu/The Museum of Modern Art; © Yi-Chun Wu/The Museum of Modern Art.

A key work of the minimalist dance movement – first presented at Yoko Ono’s New York studio in 1961 and now part of the Museum of Modern Art’s collection – is being performed for the first time in Australia by University of Melbourne dance and theatre students at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

Huddle is one of the artworks in the NGV’s world-premiere exhibition in Melbourne, MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art, which features over 230 works from New York’s iconic Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

It was choreographed by Simone Forti as part of her seminal series Dance Constructions and originally performed by performers such as Yvonne RainerSteve Paxton and Robert Morris.

A major figure in the minimalist dance movement, Ms Forti said her work – involving six to nine performers interlocking their bodies in a huddle and taking turns to disentangle themselves and climb over the others in silence – was designed to be an unstylised experience.

“I wanted to see something where you could watch people moving in a way that wasn’t stylised, that you could just see what it was like to have somebody climb, and to have people support that climbing, and to watch people in action doing something kind of unusual,” Ms Forti said.

Victorian College of the Arts Head of Dance Jenny Kinder said she was delighted to see VCA Dance students performing in such a seminal work.

“Part of the training at VCA Dance is to enable dancers and emerging choreographers to work across many forms of contemporary dance and to understand their dance lineage," Associate Professor Kinder said.

"For the students involved, and the public who get to see this world-famous work, Huddle offers a terrific and unique experience.”

MoMA at NGV explores the emergence and development of major art movements and represents more than 130 years of radical artistic innovation.

The exhibition also reflects the wider technological, social and political developments that transformed society during this period, from late 19th century urban and industrial transformation, through to the digital and global present.

The University of Melbourne is the Learning Partner of the NGV’s Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition where the Faculty of Arts is also presenting four weeks of masterclasses to explore some of the art and ideas that have emerged in response to radical technological, social and cultural change over the past 130 years.

See the website for further details and to register.

Co-organised by the National Gallery of Victoria and The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA at NGV will be on display at NGV International until 7 October 2018. Tickets and information are available via the NGV website.

Performances of Huddle will take place every Saturday from 11.00am in Federation Court until 6 October, 2018.