Trishaâ€™s Clear Fog
No stage set has ever been like this. It looked like a waterfall (with many spigots above), then like a cloud enveloping the dancers, then like smoke from a distant forest fire. Such is the design of sculptor Fujiko Nakaya of Trisha Brown’s Opal Loop (1980), reconstructed by Julie Martin at Baryshnikov Arts Center. Whether the dancers were whipping an arm, rocking in second-position plié, or huddling near each other, they seemed sweetly oblivious of the oncoming cloud. And yet it added so much drama.
The shifting cloud can obscure some of the choreographic congruences, like when two dancers suddenly fall into unison. But what it allows you to see is the parallel between the nature of vapor and the nature of Trisha’s movement. Even when an arm is angular, like an elbow held up to make an L-shape, the swooping, swiping moves are like eddies of water swirling and flowing. Momentum, coming from an interior place, builds and dies down within seconds. Think of other Trisha Brown titles: Water Motor, Glacial Decoy, Floor of the Forest, Skymap, Pamplona Stones, Trillium (a kind of plant), Astral Convertible. So many have an element of the elements in them. When watching Opal Loop, one can meditate on the fact that Trisha’s work is…elemental.
Photo by Julia Cervantes, courtesy TBDC