Last thursday I went to see Trisha Brown Dance Company perform a retrospect of her work, as part of the international 'Tanz in August' dance festival here in Berlin. The pieces performed included Accumulation (1971), Geometry of Quiet (2002), Spanish Dance (1973), If you couldn't see me (1994) and Present Tense (2003).
I don't know much about Trisha Brown's work/history, I have seen a limited amount of her work on DVD, but I love her performance of Accumulation so when I saw it on the bill I made sure I got to see it live.
Before the performance Trisha gave a talk, guided by the questions of Nele Hertling (board memeber of Tanzplan Deutschland and Vice-President of Der Akademie Der Kunste, Berlin). This was really great to listen to. Trisha was wonderfully eccentrically ordinary. And, I know I'll get told off for using this word, but she was nice.
The best parts for me were 1. when she was explaining that her loose body runs in the family and did an impression of her nephew asking her to play table tennis 'come on aunt trish, come on aunt trish!' all legs and arms flying about.
And 2. when she stood up to and started to demonstrate a sequence she used to help her dancers when she first set up her company. Those few simple movements were beautiful and easy. Me and Zinzi (a freshly graduated NSCD student who was visiting me) nudged each other, smiled effectionately and uttered oh, aunt trish!
Performance wise I was a little disappointed. The performance of Accumulation seemed a little wooden, without the ease and feeling of continous flow which is vital to the piece, but this was a good lesson - in how different movement can look on different people.
But I did throughly enjoy Spanish Arms. It was so simple but effective, everyone enjoys this piece. I was trying to figure out why,and I think its the sense of completeness it gives, which as humans we find satisfying.
The other pieces were all beautifully danced and with great movement, but for some reason I just didn't connect with them.
But as a whole I'm glad I went. I felt like it was a rare opportunity to see choreographer and work together. And its important to remember her work in context, it was so new and 'experimental' at the time. Her genuine eagerness and love of what she does was great and makes me want to know more about her philosophy and workings.
One thing she did say was when she improvises with the dancers it doesn't feel like improvisation - it feels like work. Hard work. To this me and Zinzi both nodded in agreement.