Trisha Brown: In Plain Site
- Lucy Ribchester
- 12 August 2019
This article is from 2019
A midsummer night's dance
It is a treat to see dancers in places where they would not normally be found, or in situations in which you wouldn't normally find them; in among tall trees, spreading ferns and rough hewn rocks; floating serenely on square rafts on a geometric lake; getting dressed horizontally. The union of Trisha Brown Dance Company and Jupiter Artland is one full of surprise, delight and tranquillity and its success owes as much to the careful choice of setting for each dance in the Jupiter grounds, as to the clean lines of Brown's choreography.
The first piece, an excerpt from the 1993 work Another Story as in Falling takes place in front of the perfect terraces of Charles Jencks' Cells of Life. The troupe of dancers makes a striking picture, striding out head to toe in pristine white against the psychedelic green of the manicured grass. Rotations, patterns, staggered synchronisations all emerge to Alvin Curran's electronic score. There's a freshness that comes from seeing each dancer's limbs push through such vastness of air.
Before long we are off into the midst of Andy Goldsworthy's Stone Coppice, where rocks are lodged between the forking trunks of trees, and dancers wait to perform no further away than arm's length. Seeing choreography so close, it's not just the details that fascinate but the balance of looseness and poise each dancer has to maintain in order to carry the flow of the phrases through their body.
The setting feels prehistoric, timeless and gives the first two short pieces an organic colour, while 1971's Accumulation comes as a teasing contrast, building a sequence of small quirky movements to The Grateful Dead's 'Uncle John's Band'.
The fun continues as we move to Phyllida Barlow's majestic quarry, where a rig is set to perform Brown's 1970 piece, Floor of the Forest. Here, tied to a grid of horizontal ropes are items of clothing which the two dancers wriggle in and out of; it's a piece which could have been created this year and is testament to Brown's innovation and vision. Turning an everyday vertical act on its side sounds simple but as we see, requires oodles of dexterity and strength, and is a charm to behold.
As the evening draws to a close we come full circle to Jencks' Cells of Life, this time perched high on the terraces to look down on twin angular lakes. Here four dancers on rafts draw out a repeated phrase, rotating their bodies by degrees each time. The breeze shivering on the lakes' surfaces adds an element of randomness to the turns, and it is as cleansing and serene an ode to the sunset as you could wish for.
Jupiter Artland, run ended. Part of the Edinburgh International Festival.