Interview: Trisha Brown - choreographer
Influential figure in American postmodern dance heads for Glasgow
What made you want to be a choreographer?
The foundations for living a creative life were laid in my childhood. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, which provided a luscious environment for an imaginative mind. I’ve always said that the forest was my first art lesson – I climbed trees, played sports, hunted and fished. My boundless energy was also formally funnelled through the study of ballet, tap and acrobatics. I received a traditional modern dance education from Mills College, but it was in an improvisation workshop led by Anna Halprin in 1959 that my intuitive process was cracked opened (and encouraged) and where what would be my life’s work truly began. I’ve been smitten with improvisation ever since and I’ve spent decades pursuing this elusive practice.
What was the inspiration behind new work, Les Yeux et l’âme, which your company will be performing at Tramway along with If You Couldn’t See Me, Foray Foret and For MG: The Movie?
In Les Yeux et l’âme, I return to a little-known aspect of my early choreographic training. I collaborate with Rameau’s music – sometimes I set dance to music, sometimes it is located between the notes. Rameau understood the profound equality, independence and harmonisation of various art forms – music, words, movement, painting, sculpture. I work the same way, though it is movement and gesture which I endow with an independent expressive significance that deliver the opera’s content, both musical and vocal.
What do you look for in a dancer that performs your work?
My job is to guide them to make wondrous choices without diminishing their spirit.
Trisha Brown Dance Company, Tramway, Glasgow, Sat 12 & Sun 13 May.