Postmodern Spirit

By Poesio, Giannandrea | The Spectator, October 23, 2010 | Go to article overview

Postmodern Spirit


Poesio, Giannandrea, The Spectator


Dance Umbrella

Candoco Dance Company

Alesandra Seutin & Vicki Igbokwe

Trisha Brown

Southbank Centre

Raimund Hoghe

Laban Theatre

Choreographing You

Hayward Gallery, until 9 January

Royal Ballet

Royal Opera House

Once upon a time, in America, a group of dancers and performance artists gathered in the Judson Church Theater and challenged long-held artistic tenets. The historical significance of their provocative aesthetics led scholars to label their art 'postmodern dance', even though there was more to their creations than just dance. A few decades later, their works have not lost their appeal, even though their principles have been regurgitated and tiresomely plagiarised.

Take, for instance, Trisha Brown's Flower of the Forest, the choreographic installation that greeted viewers outside the Queen Elizabeth Hall over the weekend. Moving through a web of ropes and strategically placed garments, two dancers inhabited the suspended clothing, generating an ever changing game of bodily interactions with the multicoloured structure. The 30-year old Flower of the Forest is thus a more than fitting introduction to the two Trisha Brown retrospectives that dominate this year's Dance Umbrella - one on stage, at the QEH, and one on screen, at Tate Modern.

Brown's work is monumental, and her artistic lessons encompass all the significant aesthetic trends that modern-day dancemakers draw upon or refer to. Yet her work goes far beyond the mere exploration of new choreography, as it also explores nondance-specific, though art-related issues. Her presence in London ties in perfectly with the Choreographing You exhibition at the Hayward, which, in true postmodern spirit, addresses the interactions between artworks and the viewers' space/movement. Indeed, Brown's work is also part of the exhibition, together with that of other forerunners of postmodern dance. All the main ingredients of the postmodern condition are on display:

displaced beliefs, pastiche, collage, blurred boundaries between the viewer, the author and the artwork. Should you feel like it, you can easily engage in some serious or amusing dance-making.

Indeed, fun, whether in the form of the affectionately irreverent translation of Rameau's operatic music in Brown's L'Amour au theatre (2009) or in the challenge posed by William Forsythe's 'choreographic object', The Fact of Matter (2009), at the Hayward, has long been an unsung ingredient of postmodernism. …

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