Be a Part of It: Trisha Brown Dance

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do you have a Valentine yet? How about a date with history, and a little vertigo?


On February 13th and 14th the Trisha Brown Dance Company returns to Dia:Beacon for another set of gallery performances. The troupe has asked for 20 volunteers to help with the recreation of Brown’s 1974 work, “Spiral,” which will take place in the cavernous, spooky Beacon basement. The piece is simple and genius: with the help of a ladder, harness and rope, a dancer walks down and around a pillar, parallel to the ground.

Volunteers are needed to help place and move the ladders. These magical events tend to sell out, and finding a good view can be tricky. Well, there’s no better view than the bottom of the pillar.

What’s it like to defy gravity? I asked Brown alumnus Stanford Makishi, the Baryshnikov Arts Center’s executive director, who performed “Spiral” a few years ago:

CLR: Any advice for newbies?

SM: Have fun. But the execution of it, in front of an audience, has to be treated like any other real performance.

CLR: Is it at all terrifying?

SM: (laughs) Like getting on a rollercoaster, there was that tiny bit of doubt, that something is going to fail. It’s not that far too fall, but it’s a concrete floor. But it was comforting, Trisha Brown was right there underneath me. I remember looking down at her; her mouth was slightly open, with I think a certain delight and wonder, just looking up. Then when we started to go I remember her laughing. It was very sweet.

Watch the video to see Brown taking full advantage of SoHo real estate (which she likened to the Wild West), decades before Apple or Prada ever came calling. The building-scaling begins at about a minute in.

Want to stand where Trisha Brown stood for a few days? The volunteer deadline is January 27. Call (845) 440-0100 for full details.


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Comments [7]

Carrie Ahern

Let me know when you are planning on going to the Guggenheim next week--would love an informal outing.

Feb. 05 2010 09:48 AM
Claudia La Rocco

Advice taken, Carrie:

I'll be going to the Guggenheim next week - shall we make it an informal P. Club day trip?

Feb. 04 2010 08:47 AM
Carrie Ahern

I hereby also nominate Nancy Spector for "most asinine comment 2010"--but my favorite is this one: “It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the work, so I don’t know why anyone would do that.”

I have been thinking about TS since the Times Magazine article came out and have brought it up with several people for discussion, but didn't know about the Observer article and that this discussion was going on here--is it possible Claudia to let more folks know about this conversation?--I know there is a lot of interest--and this is hidden behind the Trisha post.

It seems that Tino Sehgal is brilliant at being a spin doctor--semantics and packaging. His claim that it is not performance is weak. However, his ability to make others believe it and buy it is very strong. I don't know whether to offer congratulations or disdain.

Jan. 30 2010 04:14 PM
Claudia La Rocco

And I can't wait to see that dissertation.

I imagine you've all seen Leon Neyfakh's article in the Observer, examining the eye-rolling accompanying TS:

This quote from the Gugg curator just about gave me a stroke:

"I mean, funding in the visual arts is as problematic as funding in the dance world. The grass is always greener.”

It's early days yet, folks, but I can't really imagine anything else knocking our dear Nancy Spector off the pedestal for Most Asinine Comment 2010. Unless it's one of her other quotes in the article...

The visual art world has a nasty habit of writing the performing arts right out of a shared, deeply entangled history. It's an old, ugly American story about the haves and the have nots.

Jan. 28 2010 10:35 PM
mgm27 from Los Angeles, CA

Welcome to my dissertation! I can't wait to see Sehgal's show...


Jan. 21 2010 12:57 AM
Claudia La Rocco

This will make you laugh, S - I ran into one of his "live bodies" the other night by chance, and was corrected quite sharply when I called the work "performance." We had to agree to disagree.

I'm not sure what sort of conversations are buzzing about his Guggenheim show on this topic, but it does remind me of the Prelude festival a couple of years ago - the organizers built an entire panel around the black box versus the white cube, and the question of why the latter seems to bring instant academic credibility, funding, etc. It's pretty absurd. Somehow, when it happens in a theater it's relegated to entertainment. Slap up some white walls around it and it's Art.

Jan. 20 2010 09:52 PM
Siobhan Burke

Thanks for letting us know about this, Claudia. I'm hoping to check it out.

Speaking of site-specific performance, did anyone read this article on the artist Tino Sehgal in the NY Times Magazine last weekend?

I'm not sure what to make of it. This "sculptor" uses "human clay" (live bodies) to stage theatrical situations in museums and galleries. But he is "adamant" about not calling his work theater -- let alone dance, although he did start out as a dancer/choreographer. As the choreographer who told me about the article pointed out, it seems he's getting heightened attention (and $) for doing what dance/theater artists do all the time, simply by situating his work in museums instead of theaters. Makes me wonder about the advantages of conceptualizing and presenting live art as "sculpture" instead of "performance" -- the kind of funding, institutional support, critical discourse, public following you get... Anyhow, just curious if anyone has been talking about this and what people's thoughts/reactions were.

Jan. 20 2010 08:26 PM

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About Performance Club

Open to everyone, the Performance Club is a freewheeling conversation about New York performance of all kinds, from experimental theater to gallery installations to contemporary dance. We go, we talk (online and at bars and cafes, with artists and amongst ourselves), we disagree and, sometimes, we change each other’s minds.


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