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Interview with Pat Catterson, 2019

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Interview with Pat Catterson, 2019
Catterson, Pat (Interviewee)
Fitzgerald, Ara (Interviewer)

Dance Oral History Project

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 2019-06-03 - 2019-06-04
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZMT 3-3484
Catterson, Pat
Myers, Martha
Cott, Frances
Coles, Honi, 1911-1992
Rainer, Yvonne, 1934-
Schönberg, Bessie
American Dance Festival
Dance Theater Workshop
Judson Memorial Church (New York, N.Y.)
Trio A (Choreographic work : Rainer)
Dance critics
Eating disorders
Tap dancing -- Study and teaching
Dance -- Economic aspects
Dance -- Production and direction
Sexual orientation in art
Oral histories
Venue: Interview with Pat Catterson conducted by Ara Fitzgerald on June 3 and 4, 2019, in New York City (N.Y.), for the Dance Oral History Project of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, New York, N.Y.
Content: Sound quality is excellent.
Venue: Recorded for for the Dance Oral History Project of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts 2019, June 3 and 4 New York (N.Y.).
Funding: The creation and cataloging of this recording was made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The support of the National Endowment for the Arts is also gratefully acknowledged.
Physical Description
Born digital
Extent: 3 audio files (approximately 5 hr.)
Streaming file 1, June 3, 2019 (approximately 1 hour and 46 minutes). Pat Catterson speaks with Ara Fitzgerald about her background including her birth in Indianapolis, Indiana on February 20, 1946; her parents, who were ballroom dance teachers and dancers; her early dance training and performances including her first recital; her high school years; more on her father in particular his intelligence and wisdom; her decision to apply to Northwestern University; her modern dance classes at Northwestern University and her teacher Judy [Judith] Scott; joining the dance club Orchesis and how this led to her choregraphing; attending the American Dance Festival at Connecticut College including her composition class with Bessie Schonberg; while at the Festival, Bessie Schonberg's encouraging her to continue choregraphing and David Wood's telling her she would never be a dancer; various extra-curricular activities including teaching jobs and choreographing for Orchesis; more on her childhood; continuing with dance after graduation from college; her composition teacher Martha Myer; how she came to move to New York (in 1968) influenced by Judy Scott; developing an eating disorder while in college; her life in New York City including her taking class at Merce Cunningham's studio and her successful audition as a choreographer for a Clark Center [for the Performing Arts] event; memorable (post-modern) dance performances she attended; realizing that she was gay; attending the American Dance Festival in the summer of 1969 including Martha Myer's class and its impact on her; returning to New York City after that summer and creating the work Ground row; her physical and emotional problems at this time; Frances Cott's ballet classes including how profoundly they affected her; renting studio space and creating her own work on friends including The door swings both ways; [Reverend] Al Carmines and her first concert, Pat Catterson and Friends, in 1970, at Judson Memorial Church. Streaming file 2, June 3, 2019 (approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes). Pat Catterson speaks with Ara Fitzgerald about her first concert, at Judson Memorial Church; her friendship with Yvonne Rainer; (briefly) her impression of Twyla Tharp at Tharp's rehearsal; her work Roof piece; her next concert, at St. Clement's [Theatre at St. Clement's] including her work Purple, which was performed on a ladder; the solo she created for Merel Poloway including what this experience taught her about herself and her work; finding a model for her own modus operandi in Yvonne Rainer's independent, project-based approach; her reasons for not wanting to form her own company; teaching tap dancing from around 1971; how, through an introduction by her student Jane Goldberg, [Charles] Honi Coles came to give tap dancing classes to Goldberg, Catterson, Larry Clarke, and Carmen Applegreen; the beginnings of her career as a teacher, when she substituted for Jamie Cunningham at Pratt Institute; her first semester-length engagement as a teacher at American University including how she saw herself in Maggie Meenahan; subsequently teaching at the University of Iowa and other schools; alternating her teaching with her work as a choreographer; accepting an offer from Jamie Cunningham to substitute, on very short notice, for Lauren Perischetti; her solo works, including Purple and Keepsake; her character solos including a work about a dancer, Esther Jane [Chavez], who committed suicide; other character works she created; the difficulties of working with film at this time; how these character works informed her group work; her works One must always fight the motion of the waves that will put you to sleep forever,and Stripped; David [R.] White and how his attitude toward her and her work changed abruptly after a negative review by Marcia Siegel. Streaming file 3, June 4, 2019 (approximately one hour and 49 minutes). Pat Catterson speaks with Ara Fitzgerald about having resolved certain personal issues, her perspective at this point on Marcia Siegel's negative review; David White and Dance Theater Workshop; reflections on her many years of teaching and how teaching has been a learning experience for herself; some of her pivotal works including (among others) Roof piece; her musical investigations; her works that used film; Modern interpretive, her first fully-integrated tap work; Crowd pleaser; Two Lydias; and Life could be a dream; her works Tiananmen and Dust including the copyright issues raised by the music of each of these works; her work After all; returning to school for a master's degree at Goddard [College?] in 2006; her dissatisfaction at the time with her choreographic process; her successful use of videotaping as a way to collaborate with her dancers on her choreography; The Intimacy of strife and The Intimacy of strife II as works that she made using this process; her work There is no conclusion including its use of audience participation; her work NOW including its inspiration in her Skype conversations with Yvonne Rainer; the logistical challenge of working with dancers in different time zones; this work's emotional impact on the dancers; her work To lie in the sky; her last group work, Artifice; her use of every financial resource to produce her work; her decision to produce online including her recent online work Project 111 and its success; her work-in-progress, Project 112; her dance writing, beginning with her Ballet Review article "Dancing, Begging, and Telling the Truth;" subsequently writing articles for the journal Attitude Magazine; writing a series of essays in connection with her graduate studies; other writing projects; her starting to write a book about her father and why she has put this project aside; what she would like to accomplish by writing about her experiences; Yvonne Rainer and their relationship over the years; how Catterson's longtime fascination with Rainer's Trio A eventually resulted in their collaborating on a work, After many a summer dies the swan, for the White Oak Dance Project; other, subsequent collaborative projects with Yvonne Rainer; her surprise, when she was touring with Rainier, that she was still performing this late in her career (age 55 to 73), her recent decision to retire from performing; other collaborations with other artists; the through-lines in her body of work; the unique meeting of context in every performance of every dance; her thoughts on trends in the dance world today; her current happiness with her personal life and her hopes for her future professional life..
Type of Resource
Sound recording
RLIN/OCLC: 1190698966
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b22251841
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 38706b90-c9d7-0138-962c-65cf3312cc41
Rights Statement
This item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Item timeline of events

  • 2019: Created (Approximate)
  • 2020: Digitized
  • 2023: Found by you!
  • 2024

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Pat Catterson, 2019" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2019 - 2019.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Pat Catterson, 2019" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed December 3, 2023.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2019 - 2019). Interview with Pat Catterson, 2019 Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (sound recording) Interview with Pat Catterson, 2019, (2019 - 2019)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=December 3, 2023 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Pat Catterson, 2019