Faculty Profile Trisha Brown

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    Trisha Brown

    Trisha Brown

    Modern

    Biography:

    One of the most acclaimed and influential choreographers and dancers of her time, Trisha’s groundbreaking work forever changed the landscape of art. From her birthplace roots in rural Aberdeen, Washington, Brown – a 1958 graduate of Mills College Dance Department – arrived in New York in 1961. A student of Ann Halprin, Brown participated in the choreographic composition workshops taught by Robert Dunn – from which Judson Dance Theater was born – greatly contributing to the fervent of interdisciplinary creativity that defined 1960s New York. Expanding the physical behaviors that qualified as dance, she discovered the extraordinary in the everyday, and brought tasks, rulegames, natural movement, and improvisation into the making of choreography.

    With the founding of the Trisha Brown Dance Company in 1970, Brown set off on her own distinctive path of artistic investigation and ceaseless experimentation, which extended for forty years. The creator of over 100 choreographies and six operas, and a graphic artist, whose drawings have earned recognition in numerous museum exhibitions and collections, Brown’s earliest works took impetus from the cityscape of downtown SoHo, where she was a pioneering settler. In the 1970s, as Brown strove to invent an original abstract movement language – one of her singular achievements – it was art galleries, museums, and international exhibitions that provided her work its most important presentation context. Indeed, contemporary projects to introduce choreography to the museum setting are unthinkable apart from the exemplary model that Brown established.

    Today, the Trisha Brown Dance Company continues to perpetuate Brown’s legacy through its “In Plain Site” initiative. Through it, the company draws on Brown’s model for reinvigorating her choreography through its re-siting in relation to new contexts that include outdoor sites and museum settings and collections. The company is also involved in an ongoing process of reconstructing and remounting major works that Brown created for the proscenium stage between 1979 and 2011.

    In her lifetime, Trisha Brown was the recipient of nearly every award available to contemporary choreographers. The first woman to receive the coveted MacArthur ‘genius’ grant (in 1991), Brown was honored by five fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, two John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships, and Brandeis University’s Creative Arts Medal in Dance (1982). In 1988, she was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the government of France. In January 2000, she was promoted to Officier and in 2004, she was again elevated, this time to the level of Commandeur. Brown was a 1994 recipient of the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award and, at the invitation of President Bill Clinton, served on the National Council on the Arts from 1994 to 1997. In 1999, she received the New York State Governor’s Arts Award and, in 2003, was honored with the National Medal of Arts. She received the Capezio Ballet Makers Dance Foundation Award in 2010 and had the prestigious honor to serve as a Rolex Arts Initiative Mentor for 2010-11. She has received numerous honorary doctorates, is an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was awarded the 2011 New York Dance and Performance ‘Bessie’ Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2011, Brown received the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for making an “outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.” In 2012, Brown became a United States Artists Simon Fellow. Having received three awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (1971, 1974, and 1991), she was honored with the Foundation’s first Robert Rauschenberg Award in 2013.

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