Contact-Improvisation Weekly Classes

© Stephen Petergosky. Steve Paxton and Nancy Stark Smith (1980).

Contact Improvisation is a field of research through movement initiaed by Steve Paxton in 1972 in the USA. Practiced with partners in physical contact, it resembles wrestling, social dancing, tumbling, fucking, napping, acrobatics, and all that is in between those forms. In 1975, Simone Forti defined as an art-sport. Steve Paxton later on called it "a martial art, but without the martial... an art-cooperation."

Every Sunday, from March to July 2019, Culturgest will host a free Contact Improvisation class inside the walls of Drafting Interior Techniques, a retrospective exhibition dedicated to Contact Improvisation's founder and American dancemaker Steve Paxton.

During this Sunday morning class, from 11am to 1pm, local and visiting teachers will hold a space for practice, giving tools to explore with sensivity the potentials of entering in collision, lifts and tumbles with partners. The exhibition's "room 3 / a study in touch" will be the home for these Contact Improvisations: gym mats on the floor, Contact Quarterly in the walls, and archive videos to practice from will provide the context for the dance.

The series of classes is co-curated with Portuguese dancer and choreographer Rita Vilhena.

10 MAR 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

17 MAR 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

24 MAR 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

31 MAR 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

07 APR 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

14 APR 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

28 APR 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

05 MAY 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

12 MAY 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

19 MAY 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

26 MAY 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

02 JUN 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

09 JUN 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

16 JUN 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

23 JUN 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

30 JUN 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

07 JUL 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

14 JUL 2019
SUN 11:00–13:00

Gallery
Free entry*

*access to the class is limited to available space (20 people, on a first-come-first-served basis).

About Steve Paxton cycle

American choreographer, dancer and improviser Steve Paxton, born in 1939, has been continuously shaping the face of dance over the last six decades. Having started his career in the 1950s, Paxton danced with José Limon and Merce Cunningham. He was one of the founders of the Judson Dance Theatre, the source of various collective creations that have laid the roots of postmodern dance. He was also a founding member of the New York-based improvisation collective Grand Union. He is the inventor of two techniques – Contact Improvisation and Material for the Spine – and has worked together with several visual artists (such as Robert Rauschenberg), also leaving his distinctive mark on the art world. Throughout his life, Paxton has been writing extensively about movement (he has produced more than 100 articles since 1970) and working tirelessly on performing improvised and choreographed works all over the world.

His work has influenced many choreographers and dancers, who have inherited the obsessions that characterize his work: the analysis and integration of everyday movements (such as walking), the importance of touch, weight and balance, and an openness to the non-technical body.

In Portugal, Steve Paxton and the Judson Dance Theatre’s way of thinking had a decisive influence on many of those taking part in the movement that has come to be known as the New Portuguese Dance, and, in various ways, shared their concerns about the relationship between art and everyday life.

Based on this perspective, Culturgest presents the Steve Paxton cycle, which has as its main axis an exhibition curated by João Fiadeiro and Romain Bigé and an evening of performances from the 1960's to present day. But the Paxton programme doesn’t end here. The transverse nature of his work is further expressed in a series of five talks (the first of them given by Paxton himself) and three workshops about Contact Improvisation and Material for the Spine, with the involvement of schools and the transformation of the exhibition space into a performative arena.

 

Relation with dance schools


In the frame of the Steve Paxton exhibition, Culturgest approached some dance schools and research centers in Lisbon in order to make sure that the body of work of one of the most influential thinkers-makers from dance history would not go unnoticed. This collaboration will start with a series of lecture-demonstrations that Romain Bigé and João Fiadeiro, curators of the exhibition, will give on Steve Paxton’s legacy in each of the associated schools/centers. Then it unfolds with an intensive and continuous presence of students and researchers in the exhibition space (with a free pass) so they can deepen their individual research on Paxton’s work. Finally, we have encouraged the schools/centers to temporary dislocate some of their classes and initiatives into the space of the exhibition so the space will be “occupied” by practitioners and art researchers. 

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