Review: Trisha Brown - In Plain Site at Jupiter Artland

Even though American choreographer Trisha Brown made visionary work for the proscenium stage, she had – from her earliest creative days in the 1960’s – relished setting danceworks in unconventional, even unlikely spaces. Since her death in 2017, the Trisha Brown Dance Company has kept faith with that radical impulse, searching out fresh contexts for Brown’s concepts and choreographies.

Which brings us – and the company – to Jupiter Artland, where the landscaped grounds housing sculptures and installations offered a range of inspirational sites for performing in – not least the Duck Ponds, where ‘Raft Piece’ (1973) could be set thrillingly afloat. Heavy, drenching rain did, however, challenge the outdoors intentions of Trisha Brown: In Plain Site. On opening night, it stayed dry – albeit marshy underfoot. Undeterred, nine dancers in gleaming white tops and trousers arrived at the foot of Charles Jencks’s ‘Life Mounds’ and, while we watched from the terraced earthworks, they went through the crisp, measured moves of Brown’s ‘Another Story as in falling’ (excerpt) (1993). At times the precise angularities of arms and legs had a ritualistic rhythm – not unlike T’ai Chi – that, in such proximity to Jencks’s lushly green structures, felt simultaneously ancient and modern.

Into the woods – and sudden encounters with lone dancers, poised solo on small wooden platforms. Stretches, spring-y hops, kicks and strides were tailored to fit the square metre of available space, and yet the marking out of distances never felt constrained, but constructively meticulous.

Brown’s fascination with dimensions and mathematical patternings had a witty side, as we discovered with the playful building up of phrases to a Grateful Dead track (‘Accumulations’, 1971) and the off-the-wall, or rather off-the-ground, antics of two men, marooned on a high ropework lattice, getting dressed in clothes woven into the mesh! Then, finally, the calm poetic vistas of ‘Raft Piece’. Four white-clad figures spread-eagled on individual wooden pallets, each dancer slow-moving through sequences of arms extending, bodies arcing and turning, legs lifting skywards – ongoing even as dusk crept over the bravura alchemy of art and nature melding together. 

Trisha Brown: In Plain Site, Jupiter Artland, 9-11 Aug

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