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A year of moving together: Rolex mentor and protege Lee Serle & Trisha Brown

For the past year, dancer Lee Serle has been learning from, and moving with, his Rolex Arts Initiative mentor Trisha Brown. For those of you unfamiliar with Brown, the revolutionary dancer and choreographer has spent the last 40 years breaking the rules of modern dance and crisscrossing the boundaries between movement and art. And Serle has taken every advantage of working, and moving, with his groundbreaking, wall-walking mentor.

“It’s been like three experiences really,” says Serle. “Learning about Trisha through her work and being in the company structure; and then encountering Trisha in a more personal and casual way. And I have been mentored by the Trisha Brown Dance Company as a whole.”

Like many young artists stepping out in New York, the Australian-born Serle had to learn about spatial restrictions while studying with Brown in New York City. In the Big Apple, most artists have to make do with living rooms in lieu of loft studios. He explores that restraint, and the struggle to ‘be creative’, in the multimedia dance project he created during his mentorship, Untitled .

Brown and Serle’s artistic relationship wasn’t limited to dance. To get the most out of her protégé, Brown encouraged him to sketch and draw. It was a creative endeavor that made him painfully shy, a rarity for someone whose body is on display whenever he creates or performs. Despite the awkwardness, it was one of the highlights of Serle’s year.

“There have been many incredible moments for me,” says Serle. “But two that I remember most fondly are drawing with Trisha in the studio during one of my first rehearsals and walking on the walls of the Whitney Museum. Both inspiring and a lot of fun!”

By the end of their time together, Serle and Brown had found a balance in their relationship that allowed them to support one another. Serle provided the physical manifestation by lifting and carrying Brown during group improvisations with the Trisha Brown Dance Company. Brown’s support, however, goes way beyond the physical. And the lessons she’s given Serle on making time to create and pushing beyond what is comfortable won’t end when Serle returns to Melbourne.

This post is sponsored by the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative in partnership with Sundance Channel.