Trisha Bown 1936 -2017
[The following was written to be read at a memorial at Danspace that I was unable to attend.]
Eva agreed to read this for me as it seemed important to add my voice to those in St. Marks today. It’s been hard knowing how to write about you, even when, as a writer, I have dedicated more words to you than any other subject. That’s because nothing can quite encompass what you have meant to those of us who love you and your dancing and your dances.
Forty years ago I joined your company, then all women, as you had given yourself permission once again to dive into dance-y dancing--complex, technically demanding yet released dancing. I think you said something like “each movement is like a life and death decision.” The rightness of it all did feel that way. And what astonished me then and ever since has been how the tuning and use of the body, on a sublimely refined scale and the simultaneous building of elegant structures co-existed for you always.
You were the best cheerleader I ever had. We drove ourselves by your example and collapsed in laughter often. As in this quote of yours --“All of a person’s person arriving”—we showed up for you as fully as we ever could and reaped a reward of being one part of something we knew to be exquisite: formally, richly, deeply.
Many of us teach and I think each time we do we are planting seeds for how dancing may look into the future. There’s no going back after the kind of freedom your movement can unleash.
It feels important to say that many of us have also morphed in the work we do in the world. There’s one alum who’s been working with dolphins, others who are presenters or curators, bodyworkers or writers, or, as is the case for two alums, heads of Buddhist organizations! The legacy we carry from taking part in your work is a particular kind of rigor and fearlessness. And also kindness in relating with those we work with. And for me and others, a continued appetite for being part of something grand.
Thank you Trisha for all of it,
With love forever,Lisa
Photo: Marc Ginot, used on the announcements of memorials in Trisha's honor.