The Line of Least Resistance (Trisha Brown)

(Video link here.)   We when first watched this beautiful two minute video, we knew nothing about it, who made it or who its subject was. We thought only: THAT is how we want to be:

relaxed, full of vitality, ageless, open, effortless, expressive, fluid, serene, quiet, completely HERE, in whatever leap we are making. 

Like many things we write about, we started by NOT knowing and then followed trails and threads to discovery.

We discovered Trisha Brown, the legendary dancer and choreographer, who died in March at the age of 80. She was 73 when she made this beautiful leap, which seems to embody her unique dance style that she once wryly described as the line of least resistance.  Much derided as being a bad habit, the path of least resistance is, in fact, the way water flows. Be like water, Bruce Lee famously said.

There is no resistance in Trisha Brown’s leap; it is just like water.

We’ve found that sometimes just holding an image in our head can make move or think like it. Envisioning a tai chi master DOES improve our tai chi. What will envisioning Trisha Brown’s leap do?


……And in fact, Trisha Brown created a dance called Watermotor. In Babette Mangolte’s 1978 film, you can watch Brown dance it, and then see it all in slow motion starting at 3:09. (Video link here.)

Lois Greenfield

If you want to travel the trails we followed to discover Trisha Brown, we’d start with her New York Times obituary, then read reminiscences of five artists who worked with Brown and were deeply influenced by her. One was Laurie Anderson who created the music for Brown’s most ground breaking work, Set and Reset. The Times’ Alistair Macaulay called it a dance I would want the whole world to see.  

The video below shows archival footage of Set and Reset with illuminating commentary. Brown wanted to capture the aliveness of improvisation in a fixed choreography…

…the entire piece was made through improvisation that was then remembered, repeated, recorded, perfected, elaborated upon. She wanted to make movement whose impulses remained alive in the moment and looked improvised…

Our favorite section starts at .55-1:50 when Brown dances alongside a classically-trained ballet dancer whose codified movements counterbalance Brown’s uncodified ones that were completely original to her own body. (Video link here.)


…like water…


Video from David Michalek’s series Slow Dancing, stumbled on at the great Kleidersachen.

2 Responses to The Line of Least Resistance (Trisha Brown)

  1. Denise Stiller 04.28.2017 at 9:38am #

    Wow I woke to this transformative the concept of water “finding” the path of least keep the concept of water in your brain would solve many problems..Trisha brown is my heroine

  2. David Saltman 04.28.2017 at 10:26pm #

    “Be like water,” says the son of the tai chi master. It’s not only that water finds the path of least resistance, and always seeks the lowest level for its foundation. It expands to fill all available spaces. It flows. The energy of water is flow. Flow = Qi.

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