Dancing in Finland

By Nicole Kaplan

Faculty member Mariah Maloney spent two weeks in early February at the Theatre Academy Helsinki in Finland, working with the students of the dance department as they explored choreographic ideas and improvisational scores, as informed by Trisha Brown’s Group Primary Accumulation (1971), Line Up (1976), Locus (1979), and Set and Reset (1983). Maloney describes her experience in Finland as an opportunity to serve as both a dance historian and pedagogical model of Ms. Brown’s work, as she reinvestigated the processes behind much of what she performed while dancing with the company; from 1995-2002 Maloney performed, lectured and taught as a featured soloist and ensemble dancer with the Trisha Brown Dance Company.

Using improvisation as a guide, Brown’s choreography puts a strong emphasis on weight sensing and using one’s immediate surroundings in unique ways to allow a true experience of embodiment to be claimed. Maloney is known for using her cube to investigate and realize very specific logic behind what appears to be extremely illogical forms within Trisha Brown’s work. Mariah stresses that the most important element behind Brown’s work is weight sensing, rather than form or time; while exploring a safe space for personal inquiry, the form can take shape without ever taking over. In a program where there is a strong Limón presence and influence, Maloney’s approach of exploring technique through somatic work, improvisation and repertory was well received amongst the candidates of the MA program. Her fresh approach to the creative process offered new insight into the world of concert dance, as she explained that having choices within the process allows the dancer to find integration within themselves. Her work with the students eventually culminated into a 30-minute show where members of the local artistic community, fellow faculty members and students were all in attendance.

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