World-renowned choreographer and Aberdeen native Trisha Brown has announced she’ll retire from her New York City dance company, which she started in 1970.
An Aberdeen High alum from the class of 1954, Brown left a teaching position at Reed College in Portland to try her luck in the New York world of dance in 1961.
At first she stayed at the YWCA, a struggling artist in Greenwich Village, but earned acclaim for early works like “Roof Piece,” performed high on the rooftops of Manhattan. “Man Walking Down the Side of a Building” was performed, of course, on the side of a building.
Her work earned her a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, or genius grant, the first female choreographer ever so honored. That granted her the freedom to focus on the creative side of the company. From there she earned numerous other honors, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Simon Guggenheim Fellowships, and multiple honorary doctorates.
In 1976, she received the Weatherwax High School Distinguished Alumnus Award, and brought her now world-famous dance company for a performance at the Bishop Center for the Performing Arts. Her dances often included references to the Harbor: in “Skymap” she mentions Wishkah, Quinault, Quileute River and Oyehut; “Skunk Cabbage, Salt Grass and Waders” is about duck hunting with her father.
Brown announced in December the four dances now on the program for her company’s Brooklyn Academy of Music performances would be her last, according to The New York Times. The paper mentions a series of mini-strokes suffered over the past several years and an increased difficulty communicating as a reason for Brown’s departure. She’s now 76.
The Times’ chief dance critic Alastair Macaulay commented on the “poetic fluidity of her movement” and the “steely, analytical methods of her choreographic structures.”
Brown has collaborated with the likes of Mikhail Baryshnikov, Robert Rauschenberg and Laurie Anderson, among many others.
“She adopted the modernist concept of dance movement independent of music or design, and examined the principles of movement in a systematic way but also reveled in its sensuous possibilities,” Times culture reporter Daniel Wakin wrote.
The company will soon begin a three-year farewell tour around the world. Brown named longtime collaborators Diane Madden and Carolyn Lucas as associate artistic directors for the company.