Trisha Brown’s strong and long-lasting connection with Jacob's Pillow was initiated in 1980 by former Executive Director Liz Thompson, who had once danced with Brown. In Thompson's initial season, Brown performed on two back-to-back shared programs (a theme evening called "Just for Laughs" including Brown solos, and two company works the following week). That same year, Brown taught Composition in the School at Jacob's Pillow. In 1982, the Pillow was the initial commissioner of Set and Reset
, which many consider to be Brown's signature work. A collaboration between Robert Rauschenberg, Laurie Anderson, and Trisha Brown, it premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1983, and was performed at the Pillow in 1986, 1999, and 2011.
In 1986-87, the Pillow spearheaded an extensive New England residency for the Trisha Brown Dance Company, which included Company rehearsals, a week of performances, and 'informances' about her creative process. She also presented three workshops for Massachusetts dancers, choreographers, and presenters, followed up by an extensive New England tour. Jacob's Pillow was a co-commissioner of Five Part Weather Invention
and presented the world premiere in 1999, featuring live music composed and performed by Dave Douglas. That same year, the company carried out residency activities co-sponsored by the Pillow and MASS MoCA.
Pillow connections with Trisha Brown were also nurtured when the Company was not performing, such as in 2003 when Deborah Jowitt conducted a PillowTalk with Brown. This was scheduled during an engagement of the Stephen Petronio Company, as Petronio had made his Pillow debut as a member of Brown's company in 1980. Other such activities include Brown's participation in a 1983 "visionary conversation" with dance figures including David Gordon, Senta Driver, and Bessie Schönberg. Brown was also involved in publicly announcing the winner of the Pillow's Design Competition in 1986 and served on both the Century Fund Honorary Committee in the early 1980s and the 65th Anniversary Season Artists' Committee in 1997.
In 2011, the 40th anniversary of the Trisha Brown Company was celebrated not only by a week of Pillow performances, but also by a season-long exhibition in the lobby of the Ted Shawn Theatre, entitled If You Couldn't See Trisha Brown
. On view were archival items on loan from the company as well as several pieces of original Brown artwork. In addition, a PillowTalk featured eminent art historian Douglas Crimp, author of a major cover article on Brown for Artforum
Brown had been suffering from vascular dementia since 2011, and died in March 2017 at age 80.
Source of Biography
Written by Norton Owen for Jacob's Pillow Remembers.