Trisha Brown Photo: IC
US choreographer Trisha Brown, a pioneer of postmodern dance whose gravity-defying work shaped generations of creators, has died at the age of 80.
Her dance company confirmed Brown had died Saturday in San Antonio, Texas, after a "lengthy illness." She had been treated for vascular dementia.
Brown withdrew from the stage five years ago after decades as a leading light of international dance, working mostly out of New York but also choreographing for the Paris Opera Ballet.
The Trisha Brown Dance Company paid tribute to "one of the most acclaimed and influential choreographers and dancers of her time" whose "groundbreaking work forever changed the landscape of art."
Brown, whose influences ranged from avant-garde music to molecular biology, shattered norms of dance starting in the 1960s.
From the beginnings of ballet, aspiring dancers were taught to be rigid models of beauty and expression - perching their backs up and holding their buttocks in.
Brown's dancers instead mastered motion, using harnesses and ropes as they challenged the concept of gravity and blurred the line between dance and visual art.
In the deceptively simple Man Walking Down the Side of a Building, a dancer goes out as if on a stroll but descends at a 90-degree angle from the rooftop.
In 1971's Roof Piece, 10 dancers appeared atop nearby buildings of New York's then gritty SoHo neighborhood, improvising moves to which the next performer would respond.
Brown as a dancer showed a striking fluidity. Her most celebrated solo work was Water Motor, turned in 1978 into a short silent film.
She also incorporated objects from everyday life, such as spending hours on stage pushing a broom.
"I make radical changes in a mundane way," she explained in a widely cited essay in the 1970s on the meaning of "pure movement."
"I also use quirky, personal gestures; things that have specific meaning to me, but probably appear abstract to others," she wrote.