Meeting the Master, Rudy Perez 1929–2023

Rudy Perez in Spiritual Offering

As of six months ago, “Meeting the Master” might evoke the histrionic single by Michigander rock band Greta Van Fleet. It’s not unlike Medium Medium’s “Guru Maharaj Ji” from four decades before, which I’ve described as “either a snide putdown, or a pedestrian description, of the teacher-student dynamic.” I added: New York Times’ Robert Palmer writes that the song “manages to be understanding and wryly humorous.” (The epitome of this polarity might be The Beatles’ “Sexy Sadie,” written by John Lennon about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.)

Last month I wrote to my filmmaker friend Albert Gasser about

all the gurus I’ve “followed,” secular and non-, among them César Chávez (UFW), Arthur Janov (Primal Therapy), Rudy Perez (dance performance), Charles Cameron [literary and spiritual mentor], Tarkovsky (you introduced me to him), Roman Catholicism, Robert Adams (Advaita Vedanta), Lowell May (IWW), Guy McPherson (abrupt climate change). 

To that list I would add my wife Andrea Carney, whose writings salt-and-pepper this blog. And from the New World and Old World respectively, Ricardo Reyes (art and culture) and Álvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca (compassion on a tightrope). And to that original list I added, to Albert, “If I spouted the party line, I hope usually it was for a brief while. But oh, what I learned.”

Rudy Perez died yesterday morning after a severe asthma attack that took him to the ICU. A year ago I had my first such attack, mild by comparison, but scary enough for an ER session, and as the doctor told me, “You can deal with a lot of things, but not being able to breathe…?”

Continue reading “Meeting the Master, Rudy Perez 1929–2023”

Jim Morphesis: Conversations in Isolation

Blue Altarpiece by Jim Morphesis

The sun will never disappear
But the world may not have many years

— John Lennon, “Isolation”

In the summer of 2020 I contacted visual artist Jim Morphesis to ask his permission to reprint his private reply to Rudy Perez in response to Part 2 of my Portrait of Rudy Perez series. Jim had reminded Rudy of how the two had met on July 24, 1981, when Rudy appeared on Rona Barrett’s television show.

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Portrait of Rudy Perez 4: Lingering in Spaces

Still from Stations

I do what I do because
that’s what I do, and if
I didn’t do it who would?

— Rudy Perez

In talking with Rudy Perez about his career’s performances over the last nine months (see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), I noticed how many took place in art spaces. Of course, by the time I met Rudy in 1980, performances—dance and otherwise—were often hosted by galleries—large and small, for-profit and non. What follows are reminiscences of such productions during the years before I left Los Angeles for Denver in 2005, including bits from our conversations earlier this month. Continue reading “Portrait of Rudy Perez 4: Lingering in Spaces”

Everybody Dance Now 4: Time/Travel

I'm Not OK video still

This fourth edition of Everybody Dance Now involves travel in space and time, beginning with a short from Arizona filmmaker and photographer Harrison J. Bahe of Navajo Joe Films. “Xibalba” comes from the soundtrack of The Fountain (2006) composed by Clint Mansell, which also accompanies Bahe’s film. Xibalba is the Mayan underworld, which figures in The Fountain, a once-and-future picture that weaves together Mayan and Hebrew mythology, featuring a Spanish conquistador astoundingly being recognized by a native priest as the First Father, the life source. Continue reading “Everybody Dance Now 4: Time/Travel”

Portrait of Rudy Perez 2: Remain in Light

Circadian Circle photos

This is a second conversation with dancer-choreographer Rudy Perez, taking place last month on May 30. During our review of Part 1 Rudy raised a few topics that I wanted to pursue. And, of course, there had been the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day, and the reactions from coast to coast.

What follows has been lightly edited for clarity. Many thanks to Susan Perry Miick for her help with photographs. Continue reading “Portrait of Rudy Perez 2: Remain in Light”