(BECKET, Mass.) – Trisha Brown Dance Company performs in the Ted Shawn Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival from Wednesday, August 16, through Sunday, August 20, representing the work of one of the seminal choreographers of the 20th century. The company will pay tribute to the late choreographer performing a version of Opal Loop (1980) prepared especially for Jacob’s Pillow, featuring former dancers of the company and an original cast member. The company will also perform more recent choreography, including Groove and Countermove (2000) and L’Amour au théâtre (2009).
Since Trisha Brown’s passing this past March, witnessing Trisha Brown Dance Company in an evening-length program is an increasingly rare experience. As the company ventures into the new, post-Brown era, viewing Brown’s work in a proscenium venue “feel[s] increasingly essential,” writes the New Yorker.
As a co-presentation by Jacob’s Pillow Dance and The Clark in Williamstown, MA, the TBDC will present Trisha Brown: In Plain Site on Sunday, August 13, at 1pm and 4pm at the Clark. This unique, site-specific engagement reconstructs Brown’s work made for the proscenium stage and takes it into unconventional spaces, occurring on and around the Clark’s idyllic outdoor landscape.
Opal Loop reflects Brown’s 1978-1983 research on visibility and invisibility. Scholar Susan Rosenberg describes the dance as “a monument to a period in Brown’s work when she was attempting to ‘reign in the esprit’ of improvisation in fixed form choreography.” Brown created Opal Loop by teaching the original dancers a phrase made on her body as well as an improvisation by dancer Steve Paxton. The dancers then altered the movement with specific directions, creating choreographed “loops” and double-duets. The original dance, Opal Loop/Cloud Installation #72503, was performed with Fujiko Nakaya’s shifting fog sculpture made for the original performance space. Lance Gries, Eva Karczag (one of the work’s original dancers), Keith Thompson, and Shelley Senter will be performingOpal Loop at the Pillow in this unique, multi-generational presentation. Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times describes Opal Loop as “a fascinating chain sequence of hitches, ripples, shimmies, hops, knee bends.”
Groove and Countermove, the last part of a three-section work, represents a more recent chapter in Brown’s career. This dance pairs an intricate world of counterpoint between one dancer and the ensemble to jazz music by trumpeter Dave Douglas. Equally calming and explosive, the dancers’ sequential bodies paint a colorful environment on stage while cohesion and reaction between music and movement creates a signature “groove” in this dance. Jack Anderson for The New York Times writes that the “music had an attractive pulsing rhythm” while the “dancers moved to it in a loose-limbed, easygoing manner.”
L’Amour au théâtre ends the program in a series of signature duets described byTBDC as “constantly shifting aerial architecture” continuously moving the space as “the dancers anchor each other’s flight.” The movement consists of buoyant partnering and a seamless weaving of bodies that ebb and flow with the Baroque tones of French composer Jean-Phillipe Rameau’s “Hippolyte et Aricie.” L’Amour au théâtre was developed in partnership with the operatic nature of Rameau’s music and seamlessly combines with Brown’s noteworthy vocabulary and choreographic values. Judith Mackrell for The Guardian praises L’Amour au théâtre as “not only a piece of ravishing beauty, but a repository of profound technical knowledge.”
About the Trisha Brown Dance Company
Trisha Brown and her company are staples of postmodern dance. Brown is most well-known as a pioneer of Judson Dance Theater, an experimental dance movement established in the 1960s. Founding Trisha Brown Dance Company in 1970, Brown continued abstracting, questioning, and investigating. Through her company, Brown created 100 dances, six operas, and was a firm believer in collaboration with other art mediums. Layered within her iconic approach to dance making, critics have praised, “Ms. Brown’s barefoot idiom — democratic dance at its most sensuous…can have a deeply affecting kinesthetic quality” (Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times).
Brown created pieces with musicians such as John Cage and Laurie Anderson and with visual artists, including her long-time collaborator Robert Rauschenberg. Today, Trisha Brown Dance Company tours internationally as an influential and seminal postmodern dance group. Eva Yaa Asantewaa for Dance Magazine describes Brown’s work as “unlocked houses that never wait for us to wander inside. Instead, they reach out, from the first moment, quietly, gently breaking and entering one’s nervous system. We remain helpless, and enchanted, as they dance us.”
Since 1980, Trisha Brown and TBDC have worked closely with Jacob’s Pillow Dance. Former Jacob’s Pillow Director Liz Thompson studied and danced with Trisha Brown in the 1950s and 1960s and initiated the connection between Brown and the Pillow. Brown taught at The School at Jacob’s Pillow in 1980 and 1986.
Along with teaching, Brown and her company have performed multiple times at the Festival since 1980, gracing all three stages (Inside/Out Performance Space, Doris Duke Theatre, and the Ted Shawn Theatre). Jacob’s Pillow commissioned the creation of Brown’s emblematic 1983 Set and Reset, performed at Jacob’s Pillow in 1986, 1999, and 2011. In 1999, TBDC premiered Five Part Weather Invention at the Festival, co-commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow, and had residency workshops and events co-commissioned by MASS MoCA and Jacob’s Pillow.
Brown was highlighted in a PillowTalk in 2003 with dance scholar Deborah Jowitt, had a season-long exhibit at the Festival in 2011, and was on advisory committees for Jacob’s Pillow including the Century Fund Honorary Committee and the 65th season’s Artists’ Committee. Brown is featured in Jacob’s Pillow Scholar-in-Residence Maura Keefe’s series of essays for the Pillow titled Women in Dance.
Trisha Brown Dance Company
Ted Shawn Theatre, August 16–20
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8pm
Thursday & Saturday at 2pm
$69, $49, $39
A limited number of $35 Under 35 tickets are available; adults ages 18-35 are eligible. One ticket per person; each guest must show valid I.D. when picking up tickets at Will Call. Other discounts are available.
Tickets are on sale now; online at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and via phone 413.243.0745, and at the Jacob’s Pillow Box Office at 358 George Carter Road, Becket, MA, 0122
Trisha Brown: In Plain Site at the Clark
Sunday, August 13 at 1pm & 4pm
The Trisha Brown Dance Company continues Brown’s legacy through its Trisha Brown: In Plain Site initiative. Through this effort, the company draws on Brown’s model for reinvigorating her choreography at new sites and in new contexts. In a co-presentation by Jacob’s Pillow and The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, the company will present Trisha Brown: In Plain Site on the Clark’s grounds in Williamstown.