Upon seeing Trisha Brown’s concert Proscenium Dances, a retrospective of four older pieces from 1983-2011, it should be remembered that when Brown started making dances in the early 1960s, there was the idea that everyday movement could be dance and anyone could be a dancer regardless of their training.
More than 50 years later, there is the same matter-of-fact execution to her dances, offered by a group of talented dancers. This pedestrian quality of her dancers carries the same energy and focus in these engaging and abstract works.
In “Rogues,” Stuart Shugg and Marc Crousilla perform a brief duet which introduces Brown’s linear movement and quick changes of angles as the two bodies travel through space in unison. A whisper of an idea becomes something with more wit and meaning by the dance’s end.
The 2003 work “PRESENT TENSE,” with lighting designed by Jennifer Tipton and the oft-controversial sounds of John Cage, shows six dancers in vibrant costumes corresponding to an abstract set design by Elizabeth Murray. The relaxed, two-dimensional movement builds and incorporates unpredictable partner work that’s architectural in nature. The seamless relationships intersect and rebound off one another.
Jamie Scott performs the 1994 solo “If You Couldn’t See Me” facing away from the audience throughout the dance. The silky movement is equally expressive with her back facing the audience, prompting a slightly voyeuristic sensation among the spectators.
The longest running favorite and the most visually interesting piece of the evening, “Set and Reset,” uses Laurie Anderson’s electronic score with costumes and set design by Robert Rauschenberg. This dance shows Trisha Brown’s uniquely pure approach to the essential elements of dance — space, time and energy — which is why her work continues to be relevant today. The dancers enter and exit through translucent wings in a meditational wash of flexed feet, weight shifts and more dynamic movement in this pivotal piece.
Eliza Ingle is a dancer, teacher and writer in Charleston.