Dance among the Water Lilies: Trisha Brown Dance Company

Monday 21 January, 7pm and 8.30pm

Trisha Brown: In Plain Site, duos and quatuors

The programme of short pieces, Trisha Brown: In Plain Site echoes the immoderate architecture of the city of New York which became directly linked to artistic creation by generating other spaces, other rhythms and other scales. Dance and its structure, visible and simple, invented and expressed a new equilibrium, a vital and joyful organic force. Thus Accumulation (1971) was born, a spirited and now legendary solo based on a simple routine: adding one movement onto another, one by one, and repeating the pattern which becomes increasingly long with each new movement. For Locus solo (1975), a quartet of continuous action, that action is based on an ordered distribution of movement within a compartmentalised space. Trisha Brown wanted to analyse, delineate the space immediately around her body in an attempt to understand the elusive style of her movement in order to teach it to others.

Trisha Brown: In Plain Site established an intimate connection with the spectator and demonstrates that with Trisha Brown, dance is always about the here and now, a continuous process and a presence that reveals elements of her own past and future. This dance programme also invites spectators to question the specific meaning of practices that touch on temporality and re-creation. For Diane Madden and Carolyn Lucas, who work closely with the choreographer and who currently run the Trisha Brown Dance Company, the future of the company lies in the exploration and exhibition of relationship between the Early Works and stage pieces, while continuing to show the full scope of Trisha Brown’s work.

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Trisha Brown : In plain Site Locus, 1975. Dancer : Marc Crousillat. Clark Art Institute Williamstown, MA, 2017.
Photo © Christopher Duggan

 

An emblematic dancer and choreographer of the postmodern movement to whom we owe almost half a century of creation, Trisha Brown, who fascinated and influenced generations of spectators and dancers, died in the USA in 2017 at the age of 80. Her expansive repertoire, filled with exuberant and radiant vitality, was linked to the radical adventure of the New York scene on which the artist evolved in the 1960s.
While at the Judson Dance Theater, she undertook her experimental performances alongside visual artists and dancers who combined their creative process: Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Simone Forti, Lucinda Childs, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Morris, Charles Ross and Carolee Schneemann, among others. Trained in modern dance before experimenting with what she called structured improvisation “because it places you in the space with its volume”, Trisha Brown discovered the open-air studio of Anna Halprin in San Francisco in the summer of 1960, before moving to New York where she joined a composition class led by Robert Dunn at the Merce Cunningham studio. The principle behind most of the exercises of this former student of John Cage and admirer of Bauhaus, was written or drawn notation during the composition process. Alongside Robert Rauschenberg, Simone Forti, Robert Morris, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, David Gordon, Deborah and Ale Hay in particular, she soon joined the Judson Dance Theater, the crucible of postmodern dance and interlinked experiences between the visual and choreographic arts. In 1970, she founded her own company, as well as being a part of the improvisational group The Grand Union. Without music and in unusual spaces, she conducted lengthy experiments, always with a touch of humour placed on gravity, verticality, weight, speed, repetition, accumulation, geometric construction and the perception of dance... The experiments, Early Works, took place on the benches and lawns of Central Park in order to reconsider public spaces, then in car parks, galleries and lofts and while floating on rafts. Thus Accumulation is a sum of movements coming from the wrist, which, through repetition, interlock the mechanism of the whole body horizontally. Line up is a work on the line, an elaboration of repetitive structures and changes of direction, and rhythms that result in breaks of energy. Locus, in which each dancer moves in her own space conceived as a cube, presents an imaginary volume. With Planes, Trisha Brown introduced "equipment dances” in which, challenging the scope of gestures and calling upon parts of the body not usually used, she invented a new equilibrium, a new movement. In Man walking Down the Side of a Building, on the façade of an apartment block, the horizontal progress of a dancer in a harness demanded extraordinary athletic strength. Trisha Brown then produced works for the stage, and continued her explorations with Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Judd and Laurie Anderson, organically adding set design, music, choreographic notation… She left around one hundred pieces, six operas and a body of drawings. Regularly invited to perform at the Festival d’Automne and at Montpellier Danse, many of this choreographer’s masterpieces have also entered the ballet repertoire of the Opéra de Lyon, the Opéra de Paris and the CCN - Ballet de Lorraine.