In 1971, Trisha Brown gathered nine dancers dressed in red and scattered them across rooftops in lower Manhattan. For half an hour, the dancers — all of whom stood blocks apart — relayed a series of movements to each other, in the dance world’s version of the game of telephone. The work, called Roof Piece, was staged several times during the early 1970s, but had not been performed in its original rooftop context since 1973.
Last night, Brown’s dance company restaged the piece in the vicinity of the High Line Park on Manhattan’s west side, on the rooftops of office buildings, butchers and trendy restaurants. The weather, initially, did not cooperate. (An end-of-the-world thunder shower — complete with lightning — left all of us spectators huddling under the Standard Hotel shortly before the show was supposed to begin.) But once things cleared, everyoe took their positions. Ironically, the steely skies made a perfect backdrop to the bright red outfits worn by the performers.
There was something beautifully zen/tai chi about the whole exercise, with one dancer’s gesture inspiring another’s and then another’s, over several square blocks, in a rippling chain reaction. If you have a chance, there are still three more performances over the course of the weekend (and they’re free). Find the schedule here. For a good take on the original performance, see this write-up by photographer Babbette Mangolte.
All photos by C-M.