“Archiving the Gesture” Performance Lecture Honors the Creative Workings of Trisha Brown

Two former Trisha Brown dance company members discussed their experiences during a visit to Duke

Two former members of the Trisha Brown Dance Company spoke at Duke about Brown and the processes that go into creating and performing a dance. Photo by Luke Hicks.
Two former members of the Trisha Brown Dance Company spoke at Duke about Brown and the processes that go into creating and performing a dance. Photo by Luke Hicks.

Two former members of the renowned Trisha Brown Dance Company performed and discussed the troupe’s contributions during a recent symposium at the Nasher Museum of Art.

Cori Olinghouse and Shelley Senter were part of a daylong celebration Oct. 29 of the work of experimental artist and choreographer Trisha Brown.

Olinghouse danced with the company from 2002-2006. She is currently researching ways in which to archive performance art and the creative process behind it.

“Trisha has a wonderful maverick, sensual, weighted, gravitational way of working with her body and working with the movement of her thought through her body,” Olinghouse said “When I’m doing Trisha’s archive I’m concerned with her legacy and body of work, but also with the collective social memory of people who have contributed to its making. We are trying to create an animation of her thinking.”

Olinghouse and her peers are collecting film, video, drawings, handwritten material, oral history, and poetry.

Senter, a dance company member from 1986-1991, spoke Saturday about the strange connectedness between body and mind and the struggle to get a grasp on how memory, thought, spatial awareness, and other factors play into dance performance.

Asked about learning a specific routine, Senter narrowed the focus onto a single elbow move.

“I had to re-define my anatomy. I had to re-define what an arm was, what a neck was, what an elbow was. How do I free an elbow? What is freedom? What’s a ‘swing?’ What is weight? It took forever to get that one little gesture.”