The apartment I’m in looks both ways to each of the rivers of Lyon and down to the square. But my experience here for the past week has been blind until yesterday. Since my arrival the assignment I’ve brought with me has edged its way into every situation, the novelty of the city an irritating distraction.
Yesterday afternoon all this changed after seeing a dance performance by the American Trisha Brown company at Lyon Opera. The eight dancers performed with an intricate choreography moving between patterned steps and informal almost improvised situational movements. As I watched at one point I was reminded of the street chaos I’d just come out of.
On the street I had merely responded with practical hesitation to a group of bristling teenagers crossing the road yelling and jostling each other. The dance helped me reflect on what actually takes place in the development of a jostling situation, here one dancer swung
around finding a response from her partner, the two immediately infringing on the space beyond, and for an instant a rippling disorder appeared to break out before a kind of pattern resumed.
Trisha Brown comes out of a school that bridges the Abstract Expressionist – Minimalist schools, overcoming the self conscious formalism that the earlier movement had developed into by absorbing an urge to create form with informal gestures, some very ordinary, others coming out of early mechanical expressionist theatre. The result in this set of performances was a pared back organic fluency whose ambitions were obviously to create the experience of
real form but without sacrificing naturalism.
I’ve Come here to develop work with just such ambitions, studying the way people act into social spaces. Hopefully I’ll start really looking now.