The Pick Up Performance Company was founded in 1971 and incorporated in 1978 by David Gordon to foster and house his explorations in movement art and the spoken word as he purposefully reexamined and expanded the line between theater and dance. From his seminal beginnings as a founding artist in the Judson Dance Theater through his early performances at Dance Theater Workshop, Gordon has pioneered the use of text and textual narrative in dance. In this early work Gordon not only presaged his later turn to writing and directing for the stage but also predated the live theater form which came to be known as “performance art.” Cementing his dual status as a dance and theater artist, Gordon was awarded a Pew Charitable Trust National Dance Residency grant and National Theater Residency grant in successive years. In 1992, Ain Gordon (David Gordon’s son) joined the company as Co-Director. Starting with his first work in 1983, Ain Gordon found his roots in the performance art world his father helped to create and by the late 1980’s he was producing and touring his work nationally. In 1987 Ain Gordon was awarded support from National Endowment’s inaugural round of “New Forms” grants – designed specifically for artists who defied clear classification. By 1992, Ain Gordon began a move toward a more continuous emphasis on text-based theater or playwriting. In 1993, Ain Gordon and David Gordon collaborated on The Family Business (as writers, directors, and performers) and received an OBIE for their work. At the time, the particular duality of both father’s and son’s creative instincts was celebrated when The Family Business was reviewed by the Village Voice in both the theater and dance columns simultaneously. It is also worth noting the particular journey of this work from the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church to Serious Fun! at Lincoln Center to Dance Theater Workshop to New York Theater Workshop to a final presentation at a large regional theater – the Mark Taper Forum – this spectrum of venues succinctly sums up the varied creative instincts of these artists and the varied appeal that results.
In recent years, at the invitation of Mikhail Baryshnikov, David Gordon directed, choreographed and wrote narration for a tribute to and revival of dance/theater work from the Judson Church era that toured nationally and internationally. His work has also been recently seen at the Joyce Theater, The Actor’s Studio, American Conservatory Theater (San Francisco, CA.) and Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church (for which he received a BESSIE). Next season David Gordon’s work will be seen as part of the BAM Next Wave Festival’s theater programming. Among other awards and fellowships, David Gordon is the recipient of two Drama-Logue awards, two OBIE awards, three BESSIE Awards and two Guggenheim Fellowships.
Ain Gordon continues to work as a playwright who forges cross-pollination of forms for wide and varied audiences. As writer and director, his work has been presented twice at Performance Space 122, twice at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, twice at Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, five times at SoHo Rep., seven times at Dance Theater Workshop. As well as creating theater pieces of his own he has written text for, and directed, an evening length work by choreographer Bebe Miller commissioned by the Wexner Center in Ohio and written text for an evening called Men Dancing which premiered at the Joyce theater in New York. His work has also been seen (singly and/or in collaboration with David Gordon at American Repertory Theater (Cambridge MA.), the Mark Taper Forum (Los Angeles, CA.), American Conservatory Theater (San Francisco, CA), American Music Theater Festival (Philadelphia, PA.), and the George Street Playhouse (New Brunswick, NJ.). Ain Gordon is the recipient of an OBIE for his play Wally’s Ghost as well as two NYFA playwriting fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship in playwriting among other awards and fellowships.