The archive of Deborah Hay and the Deborah Hay Dance Company is held at the Harry Ransom Center, at The University of Texas at Austin. It consists of over 60 boxes of material spanning the full breadth of Hay's life and career, including films, music, letters, diaries, photographs, production files, dance scores, interviews, and manuscripts for her published books. Questions about the collection can be sent to 

Phyllis Liedeker Finley was the DHDC photo documentarian from the early 1980’s through mid 1990’s. If you are interested in purchasing her photos please contact her directly at Examples of her work are exhibited here.

More About the Adaptation
Deborah Hay, 2011

The following thoughts are inspired by Igor Stravinsky’s “Poetics of Music in the form of six lessons” in particular Lesson #6, “The Performance of Music”. In some instances Stravinsky’s phrasing has merely been tweaked to accommodate my interest in further defining adaptation as a medium for the transmission of dance.

The performer who adapts one of my solo works calls into action 3 parallel roles: the dancer, choreographer, and the executant. Executant means “putting into effect the exact demands” which underlie the practice of performance of my movement material. Each dancer must be a conscious executant. At the same time the virtues of “fidelity and sympathy” with my choreographic preferences has to be felt. I run a risk every time my dances are performed because a competent practice of the work depends on the unforeseeable and imponderable factors that make up the performer’s virtues of fidelity, sympathy, and streaming perceptual challenges.

Every adaptation includes the execution of the specific, non-specific, yet easily discernible material within the written dance score that I provide. No matter how detailed or broad the language, between the written score and the performance are hidden elements that cannot be defined because my “verbal dialectic” is deliberately powerless to define the performer’s movement dialectic.

The significance of an adaptation includes the limitations imposed upon the performer by my choreography and/or the limitations that the performer imposes upon himself/herself.

How do I recognize my choreography?
Deborah Hay, 2007

The Solo Performance Commissioning Project began in 1998 at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, in the town of Langley, WA. It took place for ten days annually for five summers before it was relocated to the Findhorn Foundation Community in Scotland in 2004 where it has since been administered by Gill Clarke and staff from Independent Dance in London and by Karl Jay-Lewin of Bodysurf Scotland, at Findhorn.

Of the eight SPCPs that have taken place, about 140 solo adaptations have been realized. I have been an audience member at only a few public performances. It is at these public showings, however, that I am coming to learn what

Choreography: Deborah Hay
Adaptation and Performance: [example: Lindsay Doe]

means. This is how the credits appear when an adaptation is being performed.

What I mean by my choreography includes the transmission from me to the dancer, of the same set of questions I ask myself when I am performing a particular movement sequence that ministers shape to a dance. I will not talk about my movement choices here, except to say that as an aspect of my choreography they fall almost exclusively into three categories: 1) impossible to realize, 2) embarrassing to “do”, or, idiotic to contemplate, 3) maddeningly simple. These movement directions are not unlike my questions that are 1) unanswerable, 2) impossible to truly comprehend, and, at the same time, 3) poignantly immediate.

History choreographs all of us, including dancers. The choreographed body dominates most dancing, for better or for worse. The questions that guide me through a dance are like the tools one would use for renovating an already existing house. Like a screwdriver being turned counter-clockwise, or a crow bar prying boards free from a wall, the dancer applies the questions to re-choreograph his/her perceived relationship to him/herself, the audience, space, time, and the instantaneous awareness of any of these combined experiences. The questions help uproot behavior that gathers experimentally and/or experientially.

When I see a singularly coherent choreographed body, performing a solo adaptation, I know that the dancer is not choosing to exercise the re-measuring tools needed to counter-choreograph the predominance of learned behavior. I use the words “choosing to exercise” because most of us know exactly what is required when we choose to train the physical body to adapt to a choreographer’s aesthetics. Training oneself in a questioning process that counter-choreographs the learned body requires similar devotion and constancy.

Every dancer who learns one of my solo dances, signs a contract, committing to a minimum three months of practice before the first public performance of his/her solo adaptation. Three months is not an estimate. It is based on my experience with new material. In order to recognize all the ways I hold onto ideas, images, suppositions, beliefs, the ways my body attaches to what I think the material ‘is’, or should feel like, or look, I need to be alone in a studio, noticing the infinitely momentary feedback that arises from my daily performance of a reliable sequence of movement directions, influenced by the immediacy arising from the same questions day after day after day.

I recognize my choreography when I see a dancer’s self-regulated transcendence of his/her choreographed body within in a movement sequence that distinguishes one dance from another.

Publications by Deborah Hay (updated January 2016)

• Moving Through the Universe in Bare Feet : Ten circle dances for Everybody, Swallow Press (Ohio University Press), Athens, OH, 1975, 234 pages.
• Lamb at the Altar : the story of a dance, Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 1994, 136 pages.
• My Body, the Buddhist, Wesleyan Press, Middletown, CT, 2000, 133 pages.

• Voilà, a dance libretto, choreographed and written by Deborah Hay, 1996 (performances at the Kitchen, New York, NY, april 1997), 15 pages.
•No Time to Fly, a solo dance score written by Deborah Hay, 2010, Austin, TX, 18 pages. Republished as is, with a new cover, by CasCo, Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht, Netherlands, 2013, 18 pages.
• Boom Boom Boom, with the score of Fire, 1999, written and choreographed by Deborah Hay, (performances at The Off Center, Austin, TX), april 2000, 10 postcards.
•Tasting the Blaze : A chronicle of performance collaboration, Futura Press, Austin, TX, 1985, 41 pages.

• Dance Talks (Excerpts from Talks Given during Circles Dances at Studio D, Austin, Texas, 1976), Dance Scope Magazine, Fall/Winter 1977/1978, Vol 12, n° 1, p. 18-22
• Exerpts from The Grand Dance – (This material was transcribed from several Solo Dance Performance tapes), River City Rising, Austin, Winter 1977 or Fall 1978, p. 26-27
• The Grand Dance – Performance transcripts, Contact Quarterly, Vol 7, n° 2, Winter 1982, p. 39-42
• Conference Call – between Pauline Oliveros, Deborah Hay, and Lisa Nelson, Contact Quarterly, Music and Sound Issue, Vol 10, n° 1, Winter 1985, p. 18
• Remaining positionless, Contact Quarterly, Vol 13, n° 2, Spring/Summer 1988, p. 22-23
• Snakeskin’s girl – an erotic duet, Contact Quarterly, Vol 12, n°1, Winter 1987, p. 8-11
• Playing Awake – letters to my daughter, The Drama Review, Vol 33, n°4, Winter 1989, p. 70-77
• Stretching the practise, Contact Quarterly, Vol 16, n° 1, Winter 1991, p. 13-16
• Wavelengths or Telephone Wires. The Drama Review, Vol 36, n° 1, Spring 1992, p. 56-58
• Lamb, lamb, lamb... – A Movement Libretto for 42 Individuals. Introduction by Ann Daly. The Drama Review, Vol 36, n° 4, Winter 1992, p. 54-81
• Lamb at the altar – The story of a Dance (excerpts). Contact Quarterly, Winter/Spring 1993, p. 42-45
• Seeing Dancing (heros & histories). Movement Research Performance Journal, #6, Spring/Summer 1993, p. 15
• Whole Point Space no.1 (Ages of the Avant Garde). Performing Arts Journal, Vol XVI, n° 1, January 1994, p. 26-27
• A Performance of a Performance – Voilà, a dance libretto. Contact Quarterly, Vol 22, n° 1, Winter/Spring 1997, p. 31-37
• Aat Hougee, Contact Quarterly, Contact Improvisation’s 25th Anniversary Issue, Vol 23, n°1, Winter/Spring 1998, p. 34
• My Body, the Buddhist – excerpts from an upcoming book, Contact Quarterly, Vol 23, n°2, Summer/Fall 1998, p. 38-42
• Voilà – a Dance Libretto. Introduction and interview by Ann Daly, PAJ – a journal of performance and art, n° 63, September 1999, pp. 24-32
• Performance as Practice. Dance Theater Journal, The voice of Dance, Vol 17, n° 2, 2001, p. 25-26
• Performance as Practice. Movement Research Journal, #23, Fall/Winter 2001, p. 8
• What if Now is? – The Other Side of O (1998). Contact Quarterly, Vol 27, n° 1, winter/spring 2002, p. 34-37
• O Beautiful. Choreographic encounters, Institute for Choreography and Dance (ICD), Vol 1, 2003, pp. 12-19
• Writing the broken chord. On Air, Amsterdam School of the Arts, Issue 1, September 2010, p. 11
• A Lecture on the Performance of Beauty. Choreographic Practices, Vol 5, n° 1, April 2014, p. 65-71

• Edited transcript of an interview with Deborah Hay. Anne Livet (ed.), Contemporary Dance, Abbeville Press, New York, 1978, p. 121-130
• Conference Call – between Pauline Oliveros, Deborah Hay, and Lisa Nelson, Contact Quarterly, Music and Sound Issue, Vol 10, n° 1, Winter 1985, p. 18
• Horse rider woman playing dancing – Ann Daly interviews Deborah Hay. Performing Arts Journal, n° 63, september 1999, p. 24-32

• The Body as the Teacher, Deborah Hay interviewed by Ric Allsopp. Jeoren Fabius (Ed), Talk, 1982-2006, Dancers talking about dance, School for New Dance Development, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 109-113