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TRISHA BROWN

 
 

Dancing Attendance @ BAM!

   

 

  

 

An architect of form, Trisha Brown shapes space with choreography that is at times as languorous and fluid as water, and at others with movement that has the angularity of jagged edge of cliff face or facet of diamond. If we allude to nature here - water, rocks - it must be understood that geometry has always been Ms. Brown's point of departure: she begins with the line - its beginning and end, the edge, the border.  In the 60s and 70s when Trisha Brown was dancing with the cutting-edge Grand Union or as a founding member of Judson Dance Theater (possibly the most important modern dance collective to date) the audience was familiar mainly with the classical forms and linear narrative of ballet.  Brown and her collaborators and contemporaries (Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham) radically changed the way dance was viewed: they made it modern, intellectual, difficult, arousing, challenging, surprising, hip.  They refuted the idea that dance needed to look 'pretty' and challenged our notions of elegance and beauty.  Brown has incorporated opera, video and other media into her work and commissioned artists such as Robert Rauschenberg to create visually stunning sets to accompany her work.

New Yorkers have a marvelous opportunity to catch the septuagenarian choreographer's work at BAM next week where Trisha Brown Dance Company will be presenting a retrospective of career highlights.  It starts off with Planes (1968), in which dancers attempt to scale a vertical wall against which an evocative, impressionistic film of New York is projected.  There is also Glacial Decoy (1970), a superb fast-paced presentation  in which Brown highlights the dancers' entrances and exits (usually peripheral to a piece) and brings them metaphorically center stage, with Rauschenberg's black-and-white set as background.   O zlozony/O composite (2004), with post-modern score by Laurie Anderson and sets by the eerie abstract painter Vija Celmins also explores Brown's romance with the fluid and the ductile.  Rounding out the program is the world premiere of the Baroque-influenced L'Amour au Théâtre.  To see Trisha Brown live is to experience the sometimes fluid, sometimes angular architecture of contemporary dance at its best.

Sally Barnes' book Terpsichore in Sneakers is a classic primer on Post-Modern Dance, a perfect theoretical refresher before a BAM visit next week!   

 

See: Trisha Brown@BAM, April 29 - May 2 

Read: Terpsichore in Sneakers, Sally Barnes  
 

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