Rudy Perez

A pioneer in post-modern and experimental dance, Rudy Perez began his training and career in his native New York. He studied voice and piano at New York’s High School of Music and Arts and went on to study dance with Martha Graham, Mary Anthony, and Merce Cunningham post graduation. In the 1960’s he frequently performed with the Judson Dance Theatre where he created much of his breakthrough solo work. In 1967 he formed the Rudy Perez Dance Theatre, which he toured throughout the United States, Germany, and Canada. From 1968-1978 he was also the artist-in-residence at Marymount Manhattan College, and he trained as a dance therapist with Marian Chase and practiced dance therapy at Bellevue Hospital.

In the late 1970’s Perez’s focus shifted from New York to Los Angeles. He took on a position as a substitute teacher for the University of California, Los Angeles’ Dance Department in 1978 and moved to California permanently in 1979. He has since become an important contributor to the Los Angeles dance community as an educator, teacher, and choreographer. Over the course of his career he has created over 50 original pieces of choreography and taught at many institutions such as the Los Angeles High School for the Arts (1992-2002) and USC School of Dramatic Arts. He continues to teach at the West Side Academy of Dance in Santa Monica.

His many awards include: National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowships, Irvine Fellowship in Dance, Pasadena Arts Commission Grant, Lester Horton Awards for Performance (1992), Teaching (1997), and Lifetime Achievement (2005), and an Honorary Doctorate from California Institute for the Arts (2006).

In 2002 Perez donated the Rudy Perez Archive to the USC Libraries where it is now housed in Special Collections. The Archive includes biographical items such as correspondences, photographs, programs, press clippings, and other materials. Also included in the library are costumes, props, recordings of music and awards, such as Perez’s 2004 Lester Horton Dance Award for Lifetime Achievement and his honorary doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts. The library is in the process of digitizing the collection of hundreds of Perez’s video recordings, which may be viewed by appointment with the library.

For more information about the dance-related archival collections at the USC Libraries or to schedule an appointment to see the materials in person, contact Hayes at or (213) 740-5141.

Finding Aid:

A documentary “Countdown: A Reflection of a Life in Dance” was created in 2004 about the restaging of Rudy Perez’s Countdown. The film premiered at the Museum of Contemporary Art in November 2004 and was screened at American Dance Festival in 2005. KCET broadcast a segment of the film as a part of its Visiones series about Latino Art and Culture on Sunday, September 26, 2004.

For more information and to purchase the film visit:

Preview of “Countdown”:

External Links:

Rudy Perez’s Official Site:

Article by Victoria Looseleaf on KCET:
2009 Review of Rudy Perez Performance Ensemble:
1985 Review:


Dance History Project Articles
Pertaining to Rudy Perez:

Categorized as: ARTIST, Artistic Director, Choreographer, Dancer, Modern, Teacher/Educator