Dance: Reviews
You are in:  Home > Dance > Reviews   •  Archives   •  send page to a friend

Headline Feed
Email to a friend



By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 7 NOVEMBER 2013 — The Trisha Brown Company is currently undertaking a farewell tour following Brown’s decision to retire last year at the age of 76, and a programme of ‘historical’ pieces was presented at the Theatre de la Ville in Paris. Disappointingly, they were not among the best of this exceptional choreographer. It’s very difficult to criticize these works, created by an icon, by a woman who has become a legend in her own lifetime, for Trisha Brown is one of the most important figures in post-modern American dance. She devoted her energy into stripping dance of music, story, and emotion, particularly in her early days, remaining resolutely anti-theatrical. Consequently, the pieces given in Paris, created in 1966, 1987, and 1991, rather reminded one of the late 20th century in New York, when, led by Cunningham and Graham, everything was changing and the city became the centre of modern dance. The works chosen, which had so much impact at the time, seemed dated.

Vicky Shick in Homemade, 1966
Choreography: Trisha Brown
Photo: Berger

The first piece was For M. G. The Movie, 1999, a work created as a tribute to Michel Guy, creator of the Festival d’Automne and great admirer of Brown. But did the majority of the audience know that? It began with a young man running incessantly round and round and across the stage, while two other people stood motionless, their backs to the audience. He ran in diagonals, forwards then backwards, tracing squares and circles on the ground to a sound score by Alvin Curran of street noises. There was the hum of people, the roaring and clanking of traffic, dogs barking, metal objects scraping along the ground competing with a loud, intermittent buzzing.

As three or four more dancers appeared on stage, the choreography became softer, bathed in melancholy, with the dancers performing slanted jumps, standing at odd angles, and turning off-centre in slow-motion in a series of movements drained of all joy. It’s a difficult piece to interpret as well as to watch and it received a half-hearted reception from the audience.

Homemade, the four and a half minute solo dating back to 1966 which followed, has been described as a ‘jewel’ by certain specialists. A projector was fixed to the back of the interpreter, Vicky Shick, thus multiplying the perspectives of her movements. It was a deceptively off-hand piece which, again, probably had more impact at its creation although it is now considered a classic of the repertory. Only those spectators familiar with the work really appreciated it.

The evening finished with Newark, a piece more warmly received by the audience. This 1987 work is, with its running, jumping and stretching, or was, a continuation of Brown’s research into geometrical forms. Devoid of all glamour, the idea of Newark came to Brown whilst she was shifting heavy furniture around in her apartment. Dance here has been pared down to the essentials. The accompanying ‘sound concept’, a succession of monotonous piercing noises, was by Donald Judd.

Trisha Brown: Newark, 1987
Trisha Brown Dance Company
Photo: Berger

But if we had not known that these particular pieces, which were far from being timeless, were by Trisha Brown, the pioneer choreographer whose later explorations led to the creation of poetical, fluid works full of grace, a figure who has indelibly left her mark on contemporary dance, what would have been the reaction to those spectators unfamiliar with her work?

A second programme included three works from the 1990’s, with scenery and costumes by the painter, Robert Rauschenberg, Foray Foret, If you couldn’t see me and Astral Convertible.

Patricia Boccadoro writes on dance in Europe. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Observer and Dancing Times and was dance consultant to the BBC Omnibus documentary on Rudolf Nureyev. Based in Paris, Patricia Boccadoro is the dance editor for Culturekiosque 

[ Feedback | Home ]

If you value this page, please send it to a friend.


Copyright © 2013 Euromedia Group, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.