Brown, Trisha

Brown, Trisha, 1936–2017, American dancer and choreographer acclaimed for having revolutionized modern dance in the late 20th cent., b. Aberdeen, Wash. After studying dance at Mills College (B.A., 1958), she moved (1961) to New York, where, as a founding member (1962) of the innovative and influential Judson Dance Theater, she was at the center of American avant-garde dance. Brown formed her own company in 1970. Her early works, e.g., 1971's Walking on the Wall, Roof Piece, and Accumulation, were experimental, inspired by everyday movement and often utilizing “equipment” such as ropes, pulleys, and harnesses, or set in unusual locations such as rooftops, rafts, and the sides of buildings; they were frequently without music. Extremely inventive, Brown was noted for a choreography of pure and liquid movement employing a rigorous formal structure, and she frequently worked in dance cycles. From 1979 on, Brown collaborated with Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Judd, and other contemporary artists, and with composers such as John Cage and Laurie Anderson. Beginning in the 1990s, she sometimes worked with classical music, while continuing to create such solos for herself as If You Couldn't See Me (1994), expanded into the duet You Can See Us (1996) with her frequent collaborator Mikhail Baryshnikov. Other well-known ballets include Line Up (1977), the postmodern classics Opal Loop/Cloud Installation (1980) and Set and Reset (1983), M.O. (1995), and the jazz-based El Trilogy (2000). She also designed, directed, and choreographed opera productions, e.g., Monteverdi's Orfeo (1999). Over her career, Brown created more than 100 dances. In 2013, due to illness, she withdrew from the leadership of her company and announced a three-year international farewell tour. The company subsequently refocused on teaching Brown's technique and presenting her dances in intimate, site-specific performances.

See S. Rosenberg, Trisha Brown: Choreography as Visual Art (2016).

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