By Nancy Mason Hauser
I left New York as a critic for “Dance Magazine” in the early 1970s to go to WGBH, Boston’s public television station. Rudy Perez had already been there two years earlier, creating a ground-breaking dance piece for the medium. It was called “District One.”
Commissioned to create a site-specific work (pretty unusual for the time), he chose Government Plaza — a bustling urban square flanked by large buildings, open spaces and many different levels filled with an assortment of dancers, marching bands, and other denizens(including pigeons). He was paired with a visionary (and generous) director, Fred Barzyk, who encouraged him to design choreography specifically for the camera. Up to this point most dance was taped/filmed with a traditional “long shot”, where everyone was an inch tall, and at a great distance.
Fortunately, Rudy had a friend in New York who had just bought a small portable video camera called a portapak. He came up to Boston and together they worked to design all the shots—close-ups, bodies in motion –and the viewer became an active participant in the dance. This became the shooting script for the expensive broadcast camera and professional crew, who came in a week later. A whole new revolutionary approach to working with dance and video was created – — the choreographer finally became director of his own work. I had never seen anything like it; and it became the model for all the programs I did with choreographers and television for decades after. Years later, we actually met in Los Angeles and I was lucky enough to videotape many of his concerts across the city. We
became very close friends and colleagues. Rudy, you really were one of a kind, and I’m so grateful our paths crossed. May you rest in peace. You certainly made the world a better place for having been here.
Find the full Los Angeles Times obituary for Rudy Perez here, https://www.latimes.com/obituaries/story/2023-09-30/rudy-perez-choreographer-dies-age-93