396 Words on Trisha Brown

Trisha Brown Dance Company. Photo: Ian Douglas.

(10) When’s the last time you tried to spell “hypotenuse”? If you like lines, you can’t not like this dancing. The tyranny of description, of accurate description. You don’t know any words. (9) Everything is a pendulum. Everything is a propeller. A sleepiness persists through gradations in the weather. It’s natural to want to declare when things are over. It’s natural to be disappointed when your secret is in the news. (8) If you don’t read the news, then you don’t have to worry about whether you’re making history. Do you? We offer this performance for your enjoyment. We invite you to just hang out, somewhere between where we are and where you are right now. (7) Out. Gone fishing. Back before dark. Back before you realize this has nothing to do with fishing. Except that fishing is also a form of relaxation. And allows you to gaze for a while, uninterrupted, at the world. (6) If you don’t read the news, you might not know: we’re in the midst of an ending. If you do, you might be thinking about the future. For now, let’s graze past each other, inches from colliding. Let’s behave like particles or rogue celestial bodies. (5) Let’s conspire to have a picnic, where everyone’s invited. A picnic in the ’80s where there’s no such thing as tired. With music to go fishing to: a wheezing mini marching band, the hum of an airplane cabin. (4) Intelligence, in this case, is knowing what is happening at any point in time at any juncture in the body. Let it pass through, so something new can take its place. Let it shrug off a sweater. (3) Shrug off a holographic jumpsuit in the night. The swish of a pajama pant glistens in the light. Coming up with something good, unsolvable equations. If they are hard to figure out, they’ll last longer. (2) What is it you mean, when you say “in conversation”? And what is it that makes this thing more pleasing than that other? And how do you explain, in a reasonable sort of fashion, that these shifts of weight and energy are math wrapped up in magic? (1) Hand corrects a crooked knee. A spine collapses, all done trying. Always there but never arriving. Head in the clouds or out at sea, or in some vaporous galaxy. A time signature changes its identity. In the space around it, everything keeps going.

Written in response to the Trisha Brown Dance Company in four works by Trisha Brown: “Rogues” (2011), “Opal Loop/Cloud Installation #72503” (1980), “Solo Olos” (1976) and “Son of Gone Fishin’” (1981). New York Live Arts, April 9, 2014.


Siobhan Burke

SIOBHAN BURKE writes for the New York Times and Dance Magazine. She teaches at Barnard College.


MAY 2014

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