Trisha Brown Dance Company - Two Views

'Set and Reset', 'Geometry of Quiet', 'Groove and Countermove'

October, 2003 -- Sadler's Wells, London

Image of 'Geometry of Quiet' by Chris Callis


By Petra Tschiene

This week’s performances at Sadler’s Wells mark the 5th appearance of the Trisha Brown Dance Company as part of Dance Umbrella since the company’s debut in 1983. “Set and Reset”, which was premiered the same year, is one of the choreographer’s masterpieces and brought international recognition to Trisha Brown as a leader of abstract choreography. Set to a score by Laurie Anderson the dancers make their way across the stage in carefully structured solo-, duo- and ensemble sections that avoid geometrical lines. The weightlessness conveyed by the dancers stays in contrast to the black and white film snippets that are projected collage style onto three-dimensional screens above. The combination of score and movement proved quite hypnotic and found myself surprised when it ended.

The recent creation “Geometry of Quiet” could not have been more different. Salvatore Sciarrino’s poetic flute music serves as backdrop for a series of intimate duos and trios with the dancers moving through held poses and balances and only occasionally speeding up. Two large pieces of white cloth on either side of the stage are used to hide dancers or serve as alternative backdrop. Although the soft lighting enhanced the overall impression of tranquillity, I found my attention wandering after a while. It is probably one of those pieces that it's better to watch several times to appreciate. There simply did not seem to be enough movement for my taste.

“Groove and Countermove”, the final work of the evening, shows Trisha Brown’s creativity from yet a different angle. Dave Douglas’s lively jazz score allows the whole ensemble to let their hair down, dressed in rainbow coloured rather unflattering outfits that contrast with the black and white backdrop of black ink drawings. The energetic choreography plays with the concept of counterpoint between one dancer and the company and between the dance and the music. It shows off the abilities of the 9 superb performers with its witty fluid movements. This piece also ended to soon for my liking.

I would love to see more of Trisha Brown’s work in the future. According to the programme notes the company has initiated the Legacy and Preservation Program, to ensure that future generations have access to her artistry.


by Ben Cox

This review was runner-up in Round 1 of our Dance Umbrella Posting Competition.

The evening of Miss Brown’s choreography often lacked a purpose and direction, which created a repetitive show that did little more than kill time. During “Set And Reset”, I found myself noticing the structure suspended above the stage, showing a series of projected images and the fact that the translucent costumes of the dancers highlighted the absence of any under-garments. I could say that these elements detracted from the performance but I feel I would have been distracted either way. Only a few interesting entrances and odd lifts changed its monotonous dynamic. The work did not give the dancers scope to be in any way “virtuosic”. From my perspective there was little to stimulate the mind or capture the eye, which was not helped by the oversized stage.

My main observation of the third piece, “Groove and Countermove” was the isolation of the dancer in grey. Her choreography contrasted with the other dancers’ and there was some interesting use of space and opposition on the stage, which continued this idea. The choreography was slightly more commercial and so in part was more watchable than “Set and Reset” but showed little purpose and a lack of virtuosity. It had all the appeal of a gymnastics display or synchronised swimming but lacked the ‘wow’ factor, especially with the unflattering costumes. Furthermore, the set and music had little to do with the dancing.

I found that the most interesting and accessible piece was “Geometry of Quiet”. The costumes were white and not flattering, but after seeing the piece seemed to help create the sense of purity, as did the angular quality of the white silks that were incorporated into the piece, as dancers appeared and disappeared behind the fluid structure that they created. The choreography focused on how the space and surfaces in and around the human body could be utilised. The dancers were silhouetted, at one point, to emphasise this. The impression created was geometric and organic; and so reflected the impression given by the silks.

The ensemble of pieces did show Brown’s developed style, but overall seemed only to be notable because she revolutionised contemporary dance.


Edited by Stuart Sweeney

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