Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Brown Dance

"I have started working with music because I felt that the dancing was strong enough to be independent of the music and the two things could happen at the same time and the audience could relax."
Trisha Brown

For some reason, when I was reading Peggy Phelan's essay on Trisha Brown's Orfeo, this statement felt important. Unfortunately, I was on the bus and by the time I got home, I'd forgotten why. Then again, I am quite happy just to name check Phelan and Brown, to show off how I use the trip up to the psychiatric clinic educationally .

Brown is important to me because her For MG was performed by Scottish Ballet. Since, for once, I am too young to have seen her work at the Judson Memorial Church - she was part of the gang of choreographers who came up with "post-modern dance", a category I love - this connection is important. And because I am always going on about how I am a post-modernist critic, I instinctively warm to Brown's career.

Now, what was I thinking? The music and dance relationship must have been important. Brown's earliest works, back in the 1960s, didn't have music, as such. That could be argued to parallel her choreography, which wasn't dancing, as such. So embracing music - she'd done a Carmen, and directed a version of Monteverdi's Orfeo - marked a willingness to get back into the more expected tradition, of dance as movement to music.

I know that Merce Cunningham used to randomly select bits of John Cage for his dances, insisting that the only connection between choreography and composition was that they finished roughly at the same time. But Cunningham was before Brown, a modernist, if you will.

Seriously, what's my point? A choreographer using music: whatever next? A speedway rider deciding he likes to wear a crash-helmet?

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