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LES YEUX ET L’ÂME is one of two New York premieres by Trisha Brown at BAM (photo by Stephanie Berger)

LES YEUX ET L’ÂME is one of two New York premieres by Trisha Brown at BAM (photo by Stephanie Berger)

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Through February 2, $20-$70, 7:30

The Trisha Brown Dance Company’s “Proscenium Works, 1979-2011” tour kicked off at BAM this week with the New York premiere of Brown’s final two works, along with several repertory classics, as Brown announced her retirement as choreographer from the troupe she founded in 1970. On January 31, the program focused on Brown’s revolutionary use of silence and experimental music and avoidance of narrative structure; none of the pieces featured traditional songs or told a dramatic story. The show began with the thirtieth anniversary presentation of the seminal Set and Reset, a stirring collaboration with Laurie Anderson and Robert Rauschenberg. As Anderson’s hypnotic, repetitive “Long Time, No See” plays, seven dancers take the stage under a three-part geometric construction on which Rauschenberg projects newsreel-style black-and-white footage. (On the other nights, 2011’s Les Yeux et l’âme, opened the program.) For 1966’s Homemade, former TBDC member Vicky Shick returned for the short solo work in which she wears an old-fashioned projector that displays a film (by Babette Mangolte, based on Robert Whitman’s original) of Shick dancing wearing an old-fashioned projector. As she slowly moves around the stage, the film appears on the back wall, on the ceiling, and on the audience itself. Different-colored wall screens by artist Donald Judd occasionally descend from above and divide the stage into claustrophobic spaces in Newark (Niweweorce), set to Judd’s minimalist score that combines silence with bolts of loud noises that resemble the sounds of an MRI, which didn’t exist when the piece debuted in 1987. And in the new I’m going to toss my arms—if you catch them they’re yours, eight dancers in loose-fitting white costumes interact with large industrial fans that blow their clothes off, revealing colorful briefs and bathing suits as Alvin Curran plays “Toss and Find” on the piano in the far corner. The informal yet elegant movement throughout all four works is slow and steady, emphasizing form and function in compelling ways, paying tribute to Brown’s profound influence on the world of postmodern dance. At the beginning of the evening, an offstage voice announced that the night will honor the “past, present, and future” of the Trisha Brown Dance Company, and the troupe will indeed continue, with Brown, now seventy-six, taking on the official title of founding artistic director and choreographer. Following the tour of “Proscenium Works, 1979-2011,” TBDC will return to its roots, concentrating on presenting multimedia works in unusual spaces beginning in 2015.

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