In August 1978, Trisha Brown began choreographing a new work titled Glacial Decoy. Brown dedicated up to nine months to complete the piece but still felt frustrated, struggling to find the right motions and gestures for the presentation of the work. Decoy was a continuation of Brown’s exploration in spatial plains: four dancers gave the impression of floating past one another draped in white costumes. The set was designed by Robert Rauschenberg and was covered by a black and white photo-collages of piers, animals, and landscapes. Rauschenberg, who was known for his intense collaboration with dancers, worked with Brown on numerous performances including If you couldn’t see me (1994), Set and Reset (1983), and Foray Forêt (1990).
In Decoy the dancers never performed gestures in sync; the movements were intentionally delayed for a few seconds, allowing the negative space to become blanks and pauses. Brown constructed the 18-minute silent piece as “one continuous phrase” and was reflective of her initial struggle to “hammer out” the right choreography. Like many of her other works, Brown hoped the movements alone could allow the audience to understand and interpret dance’s ability to have a non-verbal conversation.
Originally performed at the Walker Art Center in 1979, Decoy was recently re-performed with the same set and costume design at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2009.
For more videos and photographs, check out Trisha Brown Dance Company’s Media Archive.
Trisha Brown’s Dance Center Foundation benefit auction is from January 9 through 26. View offerings here.