Media Arts Program

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 — Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

$8 general, $6 students/seniors, $5 members

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In the Steps of Trisha Brown

Carolyn Lucas (left) and Lisa Schmidt (right) in the Trisha Brown Dance Company's 1984 production of GLACIAL DECOY. Photograph copyright Anne Nordmann, used here courtesy of Icarus Films.

Portrait of Trisha Brown by Lourdes Delgado

Lisa Kraus

Carolyn Lucas

A film by Marie-Hélène Rebois (2017, 79 min.)

With Lisa Kraus, Carolyn Lucas, & dancers of the National Paris Opera Ballet

Licensing arranged by and images courtesy of Icarus Films and Trisha Brown Dance Company.

Forty years ago this year, in 1977, Hallwalls, in co-sponsorship with Buff State's Visual Arts Board (a frequent partner in those early years), presented a performance by Trisha Brown and dancers at Upton Hall, including the works Locus and Line Up. In 1999, Brown (as an individual artist) and Hallwalls (as an organization) were coincidentally among the recipients of that year's Governor's Arts Awards. (Cindy Sherman presented Hallwalls' award; Mikhail Baryshnikov presented Brown's.) Sadly, Brown died last month (March 18, 2017) at age 80. In her memory, and marking the 40th anniversary of her visit to Buffalo, Hallwalls presents two screenings of the new feature-length making-of documentary In the Steps of Trisha Brown (Marie-Hélène Rebois, 2016, 79 min.). About the film:

Choreographer Trisha Brown (November 25, 1936-March 18, 2017) revolutionized the world of contemporary dance. Now, her seminal 1979 work Glacial Decoy, with costumes and projected slides by the similarly risk-taking artist Robert Rauschenberg, is coming to Paris, to be performed by a new generation of dancers. In the Steps of Trisha Brown takes us behind the scenes in the weeks leading up to the first performance.

Brown's work is so complex that it resists standard dance notation, so carrying on her legacy by teaching the surprising, challenging piece to the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet are choreographer Lisa Kraus, who helped create the original production of Glacial Decoy and danced in it, and Carolyn Lucas, the current Artistic Director of the Trisha Brown Dance Company.

Brown's choreography emphasizes the relationship of bodies with gravity, a near-boneless-seeming fluidity, and working close to the ground—qualities that may not come naturally to classically-trained dancers. Kraus in particular serves as a bridge between Brown and the young dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet. She not only instructs the troupe, but also teaches them the history of Brown's work, illustrating the way that earlier projects such as Man Walking Down the Side of a Building (1970), Leaning Piece (1970), Roof Piece (1971), and Walking on the Wall (1971) were precursors to Glacial Decoy.

Interspersed with fascinating, little-seen archival footage from original productions and of Brown herself in rehearsal, In the Steps of Trisha Brown is both a testament to the value of teaching and studying art and dance, and a privileged look at the process of staging a major dance piece.

"[Lisa] Kraus, with fellow teacher Carolyn Lucas, is a disciple of Brown's school of dance, and her centrality to Rebois's film gives it its infectious, unpretentious, accessible likeability. Rebois matches her methods with an observational eye that is equally unpretentious, allowing the repeated rhythms of the dancers' movements to reveal themselves in long, uninterrupted sequences shot from the corner of the room." - Michael Pattison, British Film Institute (BFI)

"Documents the painstaking process of reconstructing the dance and transmitting it from one group of performers to another. A 35-year-old video and the muscle memory and eloquence of dancers Lisa Kraus and Carolyn Lucas contribute to this invaluable record." — Elizabeth Zimmer, The Village Voice

"Necessary viewing! Watching Paris Opera Ballet dancers do anything is a treat, but seeing them progress from semi-awkwardly trying to drop their weight to laughing as they purposefully fall off balance to executing Brown's work seamlessly is amazing." — Courtney Escoyne, Dance Magazine

  • North American Premiere, Dance on Camera, Film Society of Lincoln Center
  • West Coast Premiere, Dance Camera West
  • Jury Prize, FIFA Montreal Festival of Films on Art
  • Special Presentation, BAMcinématek
  • 2017 International Films on Art Festival, The Louvre Museum
  • 2016 FID Marseille Documentary Film Festival
  • 2016 Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival
  • 2016 DocLisboa Documentary Film Festival