Monk, Meredith Jane

views updated

Meredith Jane Monk, 1942–, American dancer, choreographer, composer, singer, director, and filmmaker, b. Lima, Peru, grad. Sarah Lawrence College, 1964. A major figure in the avant-garde, she began her career in the 1960s as a choreographer with the experimental Judson Dance Theater, New York City. In 1968 she formed her own performance group, The House. Monk is best known for innovative ensemble performance pieces. These often concern a journey or quest, sometimes incorporate video or film, and are unified by a continuing stream of rather minimalist music and expressive movement. Since the late 1970s she has largely concentrated on her musical compositions. Her works are mainly vocal, ranging from solos (e.g., Our Lady of Late, 1972) to large chorales (e.g., Dolmen Music, 1979), and she has recorded several albums of her own songs. The 40-character multimedia theater piece Quarry (1976) is widely recognized as her masterpiece. Monk's other works include the "epic" Vessel (1971), built around the life and death of Joan of Arc; the films Ellis Island (1981) and Book of Days (1988); the opera Atlas (1991); her first orchestral work, Possible Sky (2001); and the instrumental/vocal/dance piece Songs of Ascension (2009).