The Cal Performances appearance by Trisha Brown Dance Company on Friday, March 15 at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall marks the last opportunity Bay Area audiences will have to see new works by the celebrated and groundbreaking choreographer. Brown, who has revolutionized modern dance since 1961, has retired from creating new work. Her final two pieces, Les Yeux et l’âme and I’m going to toss my arms—if you catch them, they’re yours, a Bay Area and California premiere respectively, will be danced in Berkeley, along with a restaged work from her muscular 1980s repertory, Newark (Niweweorce). “From her involvement in pioneering postmodern movements like Judson Dance Theater to her decades-long collaboration with the artist Robert Rauschenberg, which she calls ‘my best dance,’ Ms. Brown’s innovations and influence are hard to overestimate” (New York Times).
Les Yeux et l’âme (“the eyes and the soul”) was created by Brown in 2011 and will receive its Bay Area premiere. The 15-minute work consists of the dance sections of Brown’s evening-length one-act opera Pygmalion (2010), set to music by French Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764). Les Yeux et l’âme is a showcase for Brown’s athletic yet graceful duets. The other new work on the company’s Berkeley program, I’m going to toss my arms—if you catch them, they’re yours, is a California premiere commissioned by Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris, France in 2011. Set to a piano and electronic tape soundtrack created by former Mills College music professor Alvin Curran, the work inventively employs large industrial fans blowing at—and dismantling—the shimmering white costumes of the dancers.
The repertory work in the Trisha Brown Dance Company’s program, Newark (Niweweorce), was choreographed in 1987, set to sound designed by New York–based composer and trombonist Peter Zummo and sculptor Donald Judd (1928–1994). A 30-minute work for seven dancers, Newark is part of Brown’s Valiant Series, a late-1980s set of athletic works (which also includes 1989’s auto-themed Astral Convertible) that pushed dancers to their physical limits. Newark is noted for its shifting stage design created by Judd, and has been completely restaged for the company’s current tour.
Trisha Brown is among the most celebrated, prolific, and admired choreographers alive today. A native of Washington State and a 1958 graduate of Mills College, Brown moved to New York City shortly after college, immersed herself postmodern dance at Judson Dance Theater, and began a choreographic career that would spawn more than 100 original works. Brown formed her own dance company in 1970 and quickly garnered notice for choreographing works for alternative spaces, including walls and rooftops in her SoHo neighborhood. Over decades of inventive choreography, Brown’s collaborations with Laurie Anderson, Robert Rauschenberg, Alvin Curran, John Cage, Donald Judd, and other prominent and cutting-edge artists have expanded the definition and boundaries of modern dance and extended her presence onto the opera stage, where Brown has worked as a director. Brown, who also danced herself until 2008, has received countless awards and accolades. She was the first woman choreographer to win a MacArthur “genius” grant, and received the first-ever “Bessie” lifetime achievement award in 2011. Also in 2011 Brown won the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. Most recently, in January 2013 Brown received the Foundation for Contemporary Art’s inaugural Robert Rauschenberg Award, endowed by the estate of the artist with whom Brown enjoyed a decades-long friendship and creative collaboration. Brown is also an accomplished visual artist who has had her drawings shown in galleries and museums worldwide.
Brown founded the Trisha Brown Dance Company in 1970 upon leaving the experimental Judson Dance Theater. The company of eight dancers, which last appeared at Cal Performances in 2007, presents dozens of performances, classes, and other events annually, both in their hometown of New York City and internationally. The 2012–2013 season has the company performing and presenting classes in France, Italy, Brazil, and Canada, as well as California, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The company’s education program offers classes and workshops, and works to perpetuate Trisha Brown’s choreographic repertory through restaging and preservation projects with dance companies, universities, and arts organizations worldwide.
Brown has decided to withdraw from leading her company, citing a series of mini-strokes in the last few years. Barbara Dufty is now the executive director of the company while longtime collaborators Diane Madden and Carolyn Lucas serve as associate artistic directors. The company will embark on a three year international farewell tour. The company’s official website is www.trishabrowncompany.org.
Tickets for Trisha Brown Dance Company on Friday, March 15 at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall range from $30.00–$68.00 and are subject to change. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at www.calperformances.org; and at the door. Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. UC faculty and staff, senior citizens, other students and UC Alumni Association members receive a $5.00 discount (Special Events excluded). For select performances, Cal Performances offers UCB student, faculty and staff, senior, and community rush tickets. For more information about discounts, go to http://calperformances.org/buy/discounts.php or call (510) 642-9988.
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