Trisha Brown by Yvonne Rainer

I am well aware there is more to dance than elegant vocabulary and deployment of dancers and it ain’t boy meets girl to music. Imagery and metaphor imbue a phrase with a particular look and feel.

Process - zaniness, athleticism, delicacy, and logic


Motivation to move is a big issue for me. What catalyzes an action. Mainly because so much of what I do comes from a physical source, so I’m always up against that question.

New Choreography

There are a complex set of factors that determine the outcome of a new dance, a kind of negotiation between reality and imagination.

The [rehearsal, experimentation, choreography] process is gorgeous and frustrating—half improvisation, half fixed phrase and half miscellaneous human factors like hope, experience, etc. My job is to guide them to make wondrous choices without diminishing their spirit.

Mechanical Instruction

When I give myself an instruction, when you’re standing there and you’re trying to figure out what to do and you give yourself an instruction . . . One arm goes up, buckle your left knee and take the fall out, see what happens, that kind of thing. Well, that’s what I mean by a mechanical instruction.

To trigger a recognizable gesture and then mediate it immediately with something else.

The rest of the body has to be so still for those small details, for the extremes to register, and that’s where the training comes in. You have to be that still on one leg in order to make these ordinary gestures visible.


I will do anything to get a good dance, invent new methods, employ trickery, endure experimentation—basically, I create new phrases on them or me or somewhere in between. It’s a collaboration. Then we come together in the theater to mix the phrases into a choreography. I have a set of ideas, plans, they know them, we try things. If it doesn’t work, we try something else. Their errors or misunderstandings or physical proposals may be incorporated. It’s a kind of mundane magic. I create an environment that allows my dancers to pitch themselves at an idea. If they do it, I use it or redirect it; if they don’t, I come up with another idea.

Trisha Brown. Photograph© by Delahaye.

Trisha Brown. Photograph© by Delahaye.


I look at these bodies and that’s all I have. I suppose I could cloak them. But to me, my democracies extend past taboos into my right to fully use the body facing in any direction, going through the basic mechanical moves. Bending at the hips is major material. I come to it from looking at the body all day long, and seeing it really as sculpture. The first time I put them in unitards in Newark, I had been working with an idea about drawing—making these diagrams in the air with their body parts. They were very precise. They were based on the vertical, horizontal, circular, and diagonal division of a square. I adored those lines, the purity of them, and Donald Judd’s suggestion—we worked on costumes together—was that they not be so tight. He wanted them to be in two pieces, and looser around the arms. I had been looking at these bare arms doing these precise moves, and I didn’t like it that they now had loose fabric making folds at the elbow, shoulder, wrist, and I said no, for this piece it must be a unitard . . .

Newark (Niweweorce) (1987)

Newark (Niweweorce) (1987)


Foray Forêt

In Foray, Forêt, one of my objectives, or themes—to make trouble at the border. Everyone trying to leave is held out there for a little longer, or they’re standing there and get jerked off or they’re running by and get pushed on . . . all of those things. Or the idea that the stage was a pool—the atmosphere changes as you go into it or out of it. You have to think before you dive in or look for the ladder to get out.

MG: The Movie

I wanted nothing to do with the border. I wanted magical manifestations of figures in the space. One of the ongoing metaphors in MG was time. Not metered time or measured time but stranger notions like the volume of time, past time, time peeling away.

I don’t want you to interpret it moment by moment In fact, again in MG there is a guiding principle about enigma, the action must both suggest and elude interpretation.

M.G. is Michel Guy [former French Minister of Culture]. “The Movie” is a clue for the audience that I was working with the idea of trying to make a figure materialize on the stage, whole, without your seeing the mechanics of getting there. he movie part of it has to do with making a figure materialize in the space the way you can when you edit a film.


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