Photo: Sébastien Mathé
PARIS, 22 FEBRUARY 2006—Although Trisha Brown enjoys a well-deserved reputation
as one of the most daring figures in post-modern American
dance, it seems no reason to pretend that I enjoyed her company's
programme at the Palais Garnier recently. It was hard going.
Her newest investigation, with the unlikely title of How Long Does
the Subject Linger on the edge of the Volume, was performed on a
stage set no different from the foggy January night outside as a quasi
transparent screen with a lighted triangle hanging in the air was already
stretched across the front of the stage as one entered the
auditorium. When the piece began, the triangle gave place to moving
graphic designs which now and then flickered and burst across the bodies
of the seven dancers behind, as if they were part of the
Her work, which proved to be an exploration of multimedia and
artificial intelligence, was set to recorded music by Curtis Bahn,
but a constant chorus of coughs, sniffles and sneezes from the
audience predominated over the various soft clicks and tinkles
initially programmed to accompany the piece. The choreography, or what one
could see of it, was almost non-existent and it was rather like visiting a
contemporary art biennial and trying to figure out what it was one was
looking at, hardly surprising considering the implication of artists and
computer experts Marc Downie, Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar.
Trisha Brown Dance Company: Geometry of Quiet
The second offering, Geometry of Quiet, an abstract piece
constructed in 2002 and first performed in Montpellier, was, the programme
read, "a study in space and slow motion to the softest of scores", but
alas, the audience seemed sicker than ever as all that was heard as the
work began in silence, were the continuing snuffles and splutters which
again competed with Salvatore' Sciarrino's music when it began,
nevertheless admirably interpreted on stage by flutist Mario Caroli.
The dancers walked on in slow motion trailing billowing white
curtains behind them, themselves clad in shapeless ill-fitting suits,
colourless and dreary. Lying heaped on the floor, they looked like large
sacks of flour.
Unfortunately, many spectators left before the third work, Present
Tense, began, which was a shame.
Trisha Brown Dance Company: Present
Photo: Sébastien Mathé
Six dancers, in twos, then in groups forming an intrinsic whole as much
as if they were pieces of a jig-saw puzzle, presented an almost continuous
flow of movement to six pieces chosen from John Cage's Sonates et
interludes pour piano préparé. Against a vivid blue, green and orange
decor by American artist, Elizabeth Murray, the dancers themselves, in red
and yellow, came together, broke lightly apart, and moved simultaneously
as if they were one. At one moment they were pushed along horizontally in
what became a quite fascinating aerial ballet not devoid of
It was probably a pity that this programme was presented at the Palais
Garnier, where many in the audience had seen two of Brown's works,
Glacial Decoy, which entered into the Paris Opéra Ballet's
repertoire in 2003, and a creation, O zlozony / O composite in
2004, both interpreted by the French company's spectacular dancers.
Brown's troupe, not in particularly fine form, suffered by comparison.
Patricia Boccadoro writes on dance in
Europe and is the dance editor for Culturekiosque.com.