I have in the last two years excluded jokes from my work. Walking like a duck used to be fair game, but no longer. Jokes come to mind so easily that there must be something wrong with them. There are ducks in Decoy, beyond the title, but they are performed so quickly that the humor is perceived subliminally, if at all. —Trisha Brown in “A Conversation about Glacial Decoy” with Yvonne Rainer, 1979
In 1974 Trisha Brown and Sylvia Palacios Whitman created a duet entitled Pamplona Stones. Breaking the strict mathematical structures in her proceeding works, Pamplona Stones functions in what Brown describes as a humorous “distribution of words, objects, and gestures in a large square room with an interplay of ambiguity in language and reference—a multiple theme and variations."
Using a free associative method of construction, Pamplona Stones is in an example of Brown’s interplay between strict formalism and spaces of irreverent permission. Two bodies, a collection of objects, gravity, and verbal and visual puns become the composing elements of this piece. Serial actions are accompanied by flat, monotone speaking—the combination of these elements is carried out in a nonchalant, deadpan style.
This piece was only performed a few times from 1974 to 1975. Over time, Brown became disinterested in overt humor. Tracing the presence of humor within postmodern dance lineages, I joined the Trisha Brown Dance Company in 2018 to direct the reconstruction of Pamplona Stones, performed by Leah Ives and Amanda Kmett’Pendry. Revisiting the moment in which Brown’s humor was fair game, this restaging is an attempt to recover the wit and irony, however overt or oblique from the vaults of postmodern dance.