Rudy Perez's career has encompassed early training with the giants of modern dance, the birth of the postmodern dance movement, and the creation of a large body of vital work. He is an active and influential choreographer and teacher based in Los Angeles, California, recognized in 2005 with the Lester Horton Lifetime Achievement Award and an Honorary Doctorate from California Institute for the Arts (CalArts) in 2006.
Perez's career began in New York, working various day jobs and studying dance at night with Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Mary Anthony, and others. His breakthrough solos in the 1960's with the Judson Dance Theater - whose members included Lucinda Childs, Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton and Yvonne Rainer - helped launch the postmodern movement in dance. During that time, he studied with dance therapist Marian Chase and practiced dance therapy at Bellevue Hospital.
From 1968-1978 he was a Resident Artist in Dance at Marymount Manhattan College. In 1970, he and Twyla Tharp joined author Don McDonagh to promote McDonagh's book, The Rise and Fall and Rise of Modern Dance, on The Today Show moderated by Barbara Walters. That same year WGBH/Boston commissioned the work District One for Dance for Camera, the predecessor to Dance in America.
After a year's residency at UCLA, Perez relocated to the West Coast. Since 1978, he has established his position as a master teacher and choreographer in Los Angeles. He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowships, the prestigious Irvine Fellowship in Dance, The Pasadena Arts Commission Grant, and Lester Horton Awards for Performance (1992) and Teaching (1997), to name a few.
The Los Angeles Music Center/Bilingual Foundation honored him in 1992 with the !Viva Los Artistas! Performing Arts Award for distinguished Latino artists. Other recipients included opera singer Suzanna Guzman, composer Lalo Schiffrin, stage director Jose Quintero, and actor Jose Ferrer. The same year, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the Otis Institute of Art and Design (Read the citation), alongisde ceramist Beatrice Wood.
Perez was on the dance faculty at Los Angeles High School for the Arts for ten years (1992 - 2002), and continues to teach classes at the West Side Academy of Dance in Santa Monica.
The Art of Rudy Perez, performed at the Luckman Arts Complex/CSLA in 2001, was applauded as "Performance of the Year" by Los Angeles Times dance critic Lewis Segal.
Countdown: Reflections on a Life in Dance, a documentary on Rudy Perez's life and work, by Severo and Rachel Perez (no relation), was premiered at MOCA/Museum of Contemporary Art on November 21, 2004, and is being broadcast nationally on PBS. Countdown was also screened at the ADF International Festival of Film and Video Dance in 2005 in Durham, North Carolina; in 2006 at the Museum of Latin America Art/Long Beach; and for Dance Camera West at REDCAT in Los Angeles.
In fall 2005, Rudy Perez mounted Shifts (Lingering in Spaces with Past Happiness), his 2003 group work, for the Lula Washington Dance Theater, which was presented at the John Anson Ford Ampitheatre.
University of Southern California's Special Collections recently acquired the archives of Rudy Perez, which also reside in part at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center in New York City.