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Solo dancing, really?

Solo dancing, really?

Vera Mantero

Solo dancing, really?

Vera Mantero

This conversation on dance, solos and improvisation brings together Portuguese dancer, choreographer and improviser Vera Mantero and Romain Bigé, co-curator of the exhibition,Drafting Interior Techniques.

We will start from this quote by Steve Paxton: “solo dancing does not exist: the dancer dances with the floor: add another dancer, you will have a quartet: each dancer with each other, and each with the floor". Martha Graham said that one never dances alone: there is always at least an absent partner. In a similar way, Paxton’s dances are studies of the partners: in solo, they unearth the hidden partners—gravity, music, memories; in duets (especially with lifetime partner Lisa Nelson), they investigate strategies to renew the encounter. How can we keep not knowing our partners enough to make room for them? What kind of others (human, non-human, ecological) can be invited in the dance and how are we caring for them? 

During this talk, visitors can visit the exhibition Drafting Interior Techniques.

Full program Four lectures from Paxton


Vera Mantero studied classical dance with Anna Mascolo and was a member of the Gulbenkian Ballet between 1984 and 1989. Having started her choreographic career in 1987, she showed her work all over Europe, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Canada, South Korea, USA and Singapore and became a key player in the New Portuguese Dance scene. Since 2000, she has also taken on voice work, singing repertoire of different authors and co-creating experimental music projects. In 1999, Culturgest organized a retrospective of her work, entitled Mês de Março, Mês de Vera [Month of March, Month of Vera]. She represented Portugal at the 26th São Paulo Biennial 2004, with Comer o coração [Eating your heart out], created in partnership with Rui Chafes. In 2002, she was awarded the Almada Award (Ministry of Culture) and in 2009 the Gulbenkian Art Award for her career as a creator and a performer.

© Patrick Marchal. Steve Paxton & Lisa Nelson - PA RT 1987.

30 MAY 2019
THU 18:30

Free entry*
Duration 90 min

* Free entry, subject to availability and tickets available on the day from 18:00 at the ticket-office

In portuguese and english

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. 


João Fiadeiro, Romain Bigé and Liliana Coutinho


Vera Mantero

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