Cold, monsoon rain does its best to ruin this outdoor dance performance today, but it is still incredibly good – which says a lot about the dancers, and choreographer. Trisha Brown studied experimental movement in San Francisco before co-founding New York’s Judson Dance Theater in the '60s. Her playful, athletic shapes and endless morphing and tweaking of styles made her a groundbreaking dancer and choreographer.
Staging her 'Accumulation' (1971) on floating wooden rafts in Jupiter Artland sculpture park, just outside Edinburgh, is a very exciting but risky plan, and they have got away with it for some performances, just not this one. Mother Nature is having none of it on this chilly Saturday, but the dancers, visiting from Trisha Brown Dance Company in New York are determined to work around wet obstacles, and present an adapted programme.
Two female dancers face each other indoors, under the wedding icing ceiling of The Ballroom, and the temperature seems to rise a few degrees as The Grateful Dead’s ‘Uncle John’s Band’ starts playing. A warm, carefree song to accompany their perfectly mirrored gestures, the dancers smile while working through a technically rigorous, but fun routine. There is subtle humour in ‘Group Primary Accumulation’, a mesmerising, zen exercise in precision and repetition, where four dancers lie on the floor, rotating 360 degrees while making sharp geometric lines with their limbs. ‘Floor of the Forest’ has two male dancers sliding into trousers and t-shirts laced around a thick, horizontal rope floor, a few feet above the mud. As seams crack loudly, the dancers flop serenely backwards, trusting their own distribution of weight on the criss-cross structure. Dazzling stuff, even with the downpour.