Trisha Brown Dance Company, Sadler's Wells, London

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The Independent Culture

Trisha Brown's dances have jumps, lifts and balances, but there's no life in them. Any drama is bleached and flattened by choreography and performance. When the dancers lean in or drag each other around by the ankles, it doesn't mean much.

Trisha Brown's dances have jumps, lifts and balances, but there's no life in them. Any drama is bleached and flattened by choreography and performance. When the dancers lean in or drag each other around by the ankles, it doesn't mean much.

Perhaps that's deliberate. Brown is one of America's leading post-modernists, a founding member of the Judson and Grand Union movements. In the Sixties and Seventies, she questioned dance and her work had dancers performing on rooftops or wearing safety harnesses to walk up walls.

That sounds more fun than the later pieces. This triple bill at Sadler's Wells was dominated by striking designs but the dance didn't do much to compete.

In the new work, how long does the subject linger on the edge of the volume..., Brown joins the fashion for dance using digital imagery. Projections are by digital designers Paul Kaiser, Shelley Eshkar and Marc Downie. How long... started with a triangle projected onto a gauze screen at the front of the stage. Lines of movement were added; zigzags become a dancing shape. But there was nothing to match it. The dancers, dressed in ugly body tights, moved in half-light. One leant out of the wings, supported by an offstage partner. Others turned and drifted, with little jumps and grasping partnering.

In Glacial Decoy, 1979, the dance was upstaged by Robert Rauschenberg's backdrop, a slideshow of photographs. Five women in pleated gauze nighties skipped about in silence. They hopped lightly from foot to foot, bent and swung their arms. Sometimes their torsos tilted with the follow-through, but there was no weight -except from one dancer - and no contrast.

There's more Rauschenberg in the 1989 piece Astral Convertible. Sound and lighting systems, sitting on scaffolding, were triggered by the dancers' movement. John Cage's score is full of groaning horn calls; lights click on and off. This time, the dancing had a little more purpose and Brown showed a sense of stage pattern. She grouped dancers on clear diagonals, propped sphinx-like on their elbows. But Astral Convertible is about 40 minutes long and there wasn't enough to sustain it.

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