Dance Matters: Trisha Brown's Group Forges Ahead Without Her

When it comes to postmodern choreography, Trisha Brown is royalty. Her half-century of work includes the exhilaratingly disorienting “equipment pieces” (as in Walking on the Wall), her beguiling mathematical structures (as in her “accumulations”), her famously liquid movement quality (see Brown's Artist Statement for her elegant definition of “pure movement”), and her reenvisioning of dance on a proscenium stage. Her influence on an international scale is huge and subtly pervasive.

 

Sadly, Brown, 76, has been felled by a series of mini-strokes that left her unable to create new work. Well-loved for her generosity and playfulness as well as for her choreographic genius, she will be missed by many who anticipated each new work with pleasure.

 

 

Brown rehearsing in her loft, 1970s. Photo by Lois Greenfield, Perron collection.

 

During its season at Brooklyn Academy of Music last winter, the Trisha Brown Dance Company announced a three-part plan to continue her work. First, taking a page from the Cunningham Dance Foundation’s “Legacy Tour,” TBDC has embarked on a three-year tour called “Proscenium Works, 1979–2011.” The repertoire will include her well-known collaborations with the likes of artists Robert Rauschenberg and Donald Judd, and composer Laurie Anderson, with titles like Set and Reset, Glacial Decoy, and Foray Forêt. The job of artistic director will be shared by her two longest dance associates: Diane Madden and Carolyn Lucas, who have been with the company 33 and 29 years respectively.

 

In 2015, the company will return to the 1970s-type of presentation, when Brown’s dances appeared in art galleries, firehouses, and other non-proscenium spaces. Brown aligned herself more with art than entertainment, and she is often the first choreographer museum curators think of when extending into “performance.”

 

The last prong of the plan is to create an online interactive media library in the spirit of experimenting with another non-theatrical space. Needless to say, it will be comforting to still have Trisha with us in this way.

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July 2021