Like the Sea: Dancing with Mary Glass (1946-2021)  

Speaker: Carol Mavor - Writer and Professor Emeritus, University of Manchester

Black and white photograph showing a naked woman sat on a chair facing to the right, head down. i Edward Weston, Nude, 1923.

A very visual lecture with images and film clips

By Carol Mavor, Writer and Professor Emeritus, University of Manchester

Along with other women, who are dead or alive, who are real or fictional—Mary Glass is part of an invisible chain of dancers, painters, literary heroines, writers, figures from my life, who embrace my own story.  

You are more myself than I am—I say to all of them—my self-same-siblings. 

Mary Glass, who is wildly different than me, is closest to my heart. 

When I was studying dance. 

I wanted to be like Anna Halprin. 

I wanted to be like Yvonne Rainer.  

I wanted to be like Simone Forti. 

I wanted to be like Ruth Beckford.  

I wanted to be like Trisha Brown.  

I deeply wanted to be Mary Glass (even if, at that time, I had never heard of her). 

Mary Glass is an innovative dancer and choreographer, quietly instrumental to the San Francisco Bay Area art scene of the 1960s and 70s—barely known today—admired for her experimental movements based on sounds and images of the Pacific.  

As a child, Glass took her first dance class with Anna Halprin on her famed redwood dance deck in Marin County, Calif. Dancing with the blue sky as her ceiling—surrounded by magical madrones and redwoods— the effect on Glass was seismic. Fittingly, Halprin called her classes “dance experiences.”  

Glass’s lifestyle, anxieties and dance reflect—with her characteristic audible (and inaudible) quietude—the geography of Northern California (human, physical, environmental). ‘Happenings’, Zero Population Growth (ZPG), object-relations theory, feminism, Vietnam, ecology. Today Glass is remembered by an increasingly diminishing handful of devotees. I am one. Like “water in water,” we are like the sea.   

Carol Mavor is writer who takes creative risks in form (literary and experimental) and political risks in content (sexuality, race in America, child-loving and the maternal).  

Her Reading Boyishly: Roland Barthes, J. M. Barrie, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Marcel Proust, and D. W. Winnicott was named by Grayson Perry in the Observer as his 2008  ‘Book of the Year.’  

Mavor’s Blue Mythologies: A Study of the Colour ‘coaxes us into having a less complacent attitude…even when it comes to something as apparently innocuous as a color’ (Los Angeles Review of Books).  

For Maggie Nelson, Mavor’s Aurelia: Art and Literature Through the Eyes and Mouth of the Fairy Tale is ‘enigmatic and as full of magic as its subjects.’ 

Max Porter sees Like a Lake as ‘a novella teasing an essay, or an erotic ghost haunting a fictional memoir, or a negative searching for its lost prints. It is an unnerving question-machine where desire, memory, loss and invention are staged, folded and held, tasted, re-made and undone. It’s a strange, vivid, troubling and beautiful book.’ 

Her Serendipity: The Afterlife of Objects is forthcoming from Reaktion Books.  

Listen to Mavor in an interview on the color blue as part of Phoebe Judge’s intriguing series on love: 

Organised by Dr Alice Butler (The Courtauld) as part of the “What a Hazard a Letter Is”: Correspondence in Feminist Art, Art Writing, and Art History, from Emily Dickinson to Now series.  

This event has passed.

10 May 2022

Tuesday 10th May, 5pm - 6.30pm BST

Free, booking essential

Vernon Square, Lecture Theatre 2 and Online via Livestream

Please note this event will be live streamed to allow those outside London access to the event. All those who wish to access the event via this online method should book a ‘Livestream’ ticket rather than ‘Lecture Theatre’ ticket.

Booking closes 30 minutes before the event start time.

Portrait of the author Carol Mavor
Carol Mavor, Author Photo
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