The doyenne of contemporary American dance, Trisha Brown has choreographed for nearly half a century. Two of her 20-year-old works, and one older solo performed only by her until now, are on view in Chelsea. They make plain, in their exquisite simplicity, how much the world and our perception of it has changed.
Brow’s generation began by stripping dance to its essentials — space, time, action — and slowly added back the comforting extras, often collaborating with strong postmodern visual artists. Robert Rauschenberg was her partner on “Foray Foret,” designing culottes of gold and sheer fabrics and proposing the sound score, classic marches performed by a live band roaming hallways behind the stage. Nine dancers float in the space, moving in and out of unison, not to the music but alongside it.
Here and in “For M.G.: The Movie,” they are emissaries from another era, the last moment before the Internet fractured our attention and put the world at our fingertips, making it harder to concentrate on extended ideas. The dancers are earthbound until they suddenly seem to fly, lifted by others or their own momentum. Alvin Curran’s score combines recorded sound with live noodlings on a grand piano at the back of the deep Dance Theater Workshop stage.
Longtime troupe member Neal Beasley is the first other person to perform Brown’s silent signature solo “Watermotor,” a 1978 tour de force, less than three minutes long, that demonstrates the potential for liftoff in her gently released cursive movements. Take them in.