going out on limbs – the passing of Trisha Brown, a choreographer

Washington Irving High, the Manhattan school where I briefly taught after being laid off (and before my departure for graduate school). It was here I discovered Deborah Gray White’s now classic study on black women in the plantation south.

I just learned of the death of choreographer Trisha Brown. Her legacy includes legitimating the movements of the untrained. When I left New York in 2003 for graduate school (on the heels of being laid off in the wake of the Twin Towers falling), I headed not to a History program, but a dance one. With memories of the smell of smoke and missing persons signs still in my mind, I figured if the world was coming to an end, I would have fun first. My untrained feet landed literally at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. There, I worked with among others the late Jan Van Dyke and John Gamble. It was there I thought deeply about the lives of enslaved women in the plantation south, thoughts that led to the pursuit of a graduate training in (the rest is) history. Looking back, that initial move took guts, something about which I am not bragging, but rather acknowledging as I think of others who went out on limbs, creative and not, among them Brown. Her obituary in The New York Times can be found here.

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