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Trisha Brown: Time, Space, Gravity

Jupiter Artland until September 29
Four stars

A ballroom is the perfect place to witness the wonders of Trisha Brown, the American choreographer who did so much to push the boundaries of contemporary dance from the 1960s right up until her death in 2017, aged eighty. So it goes for this first UK showing of Brown’s extensive archive of filmed performances, as anyone passing in the garden should be able to hear.

Depending on timing, they’ll either get the loft-friendly electronics of Laurie Anderson’s Long Time No See that accompanies 1985’s seven dancer work, Set and Reset, Version 1, or else the more classically inclined selections from Pygmalion by Jean-Philippe Rameau that go with Les Yeux et l’ame (2011). While the former features costumes by visual artist Robert Rauschenberg, the latter, part of a fortieth anniversary celebration of Brown’s work, sees eight dancers show off the work of an elder stateswoman at her peak. In both, for all the work’s seriousness, judging by the dancers’ faces, there’s clearly much fun to be had.

This attitude goes right back to the earliest short films housed in the Foundry Gallery. There’s a primal purity and child-like joy to Brown’s solo rope-play in Ballet (1968), Man Walking Down the Side of a Building (1970) and Walking on the Wall (1971). These were the formative years of Trisha Brown Dance Company, when a dilapidated New York was an adventure playground for the taking.

The sixteen films on show skip across the decades, just as a selection of Brown’s drawings take a line for a dance, while photographs capture her in full flight. Audiences can witness a sense of this first-hand when Trisha Brown Dance Company visit Jupiter Artland to perform In Plain Site. This commission for Edinburgh International Festival will see the company reconceive some of Brown’s short works against the outdoor backdrop of three of the sculpture park’s permanent environmental interventions. It should be worth taking the leap for.

The List, August 2019


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