Set and Reset is one of the key works in her extensive portfolio and illustrates very many of her processes and aesthetic. It is primarily a collaborative work: it has a score by Laurie Anderson and sets and costumes by Robert Rauschenberg.
The dancers of her Trisha Brown Dance Company were expected to do more than just execute set steps. They were full collaborators, enjoined by Brown to improvise following five basic principles: line-up, playing with visibility and invisibility, travelling the edge of the space, acting on instinct, and keeping it simple.
Rambert, the first company besides Trisha Brown’s to be allowed to dance Set and Reset, did the work full justice in its performance in the Tanks at Tate Modern. Eight totally engaging dancers, five women and three men, perfectly showcased Brown’s style of ever-flowing movement that deconstructs classical dance but uses many of its elements in new ways.
Rauschenberg’s set has three large structures, a cube between two pyramids which hang at the back and upon which are projected seemingly random sequences of fuzzy black-and-white film. One moment we seem to be following the moon landings; the next we seem to be in the middle of dustbowl America.
Rauschenberg's costumes are the lightest gauzy, floaty pants with matching tops for the women, printed in white and tones of grey.
There is an irresistible playfulness to the choreography, with its continuum of movement, perfectly structured, though often unpredictable. When you first see the dancers, four walk across upstage carrying a fourth one aloft horizontally. That done, they come on in relays, every part of their body engaged, their torsos particularly mobile, arms always stretched. but never still.
Laurie Anderson’s score is loud and repetitive, at times its combination of sources of sound almost amounting to sensory overload, and the dancers respond with a delirious exuberance, spreading out to own the space in its entirety.
As fresh now as it was all those years ago, Set and Reset leaves behind a feeling of elation and must rate as one of the high points of Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels. We cannot recommend it strongly enough.
|Set and Reset by Trisha Brown review
|Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG | MAP
12 Mar 22 – 14 Mar 22, Two daily performances at varying times Dur.: 30 mins
|Click here to book