Working on Trisha Brown’s choreography this semester has been revelatory. As a result, I’ve become more interested in exploring the connection between the mind and the body. Earlier in the process, I often felt discouraged by my seeming inability to pick up and retain the material. I couldn’t grasp the language of this work. My brain sought to “understand” the choreography in a intellectual way. I was trying to uncover the movement journey of the pieces. So often, I felt that my brain understood the dances logically but my body couldn’t digest the flow of the dances. Part of me wishes I could restart this process right now, having realized that “understanding” Trisha Brown’s work is much more of a process than I anticipated. Understanding Trisha Brown’s work comes from continuously, routinely moving the pieces, turning off the brain after a while and trusting that the work has become a part of the body.
During the final performance I remember being incredibly aware of what I was doing, trying to think about where I was going and what the next movement was. I felt distanced from the freedom that performance can inspire. When I tried to think about what I was doing, I lost the journey of the piece. In other moments, I noticed that I was focused entirely on listening to the other dancers – their breath, their impulses, the feet across the dance floor. There was a certain release or alleviation of performance pressure in those moments. I had faith that I understood how to continue moving through the piece and that I didn’t need to intellectualize the process. I didn’t need to touch the movement, but rather allowed it to carry me. Throughout the semester, I’ve learned how much I try to control movement and thoughts during a performance. But by releasing this control, a potential for a new relationship with performance is created. Rather than controlling and perfecting, one can focus on the small messages of the body. Listening to my body, as well as the bodies of my fellow performers, uncovered a new sense of communication for me, a communication that could be the spring board for the dance itself rather than just a means to create an image or stay in time. Trisha Brown’s work is incredibly precise, yet so much of it requires the dancer to relinquish control. This is an act not often practiced in the modern day. I wish I had understood this sooner. I wish I could continue to explore this work by relinquishing control and following the movement.