Childs describes her decision-making process in terms devised by Susan Sontag—what is not chosen, what is left out, is the key to her artistic strategy. “For an artist,” Childs says, “making…decisions, is…the essence of what you are doing all the time.” Sontag sees the nature of those decisions as renunciation. “It’s interesting,” Childs continues, “that Sontag would speak of it as ‘the art of refusal’ as opposed to the art of choosing. They’re close, but they’re not the same thing. It’s such a delicate adjustment that an artist needs in order to make our work what it is.” In her essay, Sontag had called this refusal “beauty.”
Childs’ embrace of refusal—of beauty—sets her apart from trends in the contemporary dance scene, where conceptual or expressionistic concerns dominate. With kinetic insistence, her dances continue to chart their own course, her choreography always tacking against prevailing winds. As Sontag pointed out, it was when Childs reacted against Judson and refused to embellish gesture with text or props or narrative associations—when she embraced beauty—that her career “took its true shape.” In the dances in silence, Childs not only matured into her means, she also matured into her ends—creating choreographic worlds where limitations engender the idea of limitlessness, where repetition is joy, and the inevitability of choices is danced.