Solo dancing, really?

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

“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 period visitors will also have the chance to see the exhibition Drafting Interior Techniques.

Full program Four lectures from Paxton

30 MAY 2019
THU 18:30

Free entry*
Duration 90 min

* Free entry, subject to availability and tickets available on the day from 6:00am at the ticket-office

In portuguese and english


João Fiadeiro, Romain Bigé and Liliana Coutinho


Vera Mantero

About Steve Paxton cycle

The American choreographer, dancer and improviser, Steve Paxton, born in 1939, has shaped the image of dance over the last six decades. Having started his career in the 1950s, Paxton danced with José Limon and Merce Cunningham, as well as being 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 founder 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. All of this took place while he was writing extensively about movement (he has produced more than 100 articles since 1970) and working tirelessly on improvised dance shows all over the world.

His work has influenced many choreographers and dancers, often to the extent that the origin of some of his researches has tended to become lost: 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 Theater’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, sharing their concerns about the relationship between art and everyday life. In the first few years of the new century, their work was presented in Lisbon on several occasions, and, in 2011, in an initiative promoted by CEM (centro em movimento), Steve Paxton presented the talk/demonstration Material for the Spine at Culturgest.

Based on this perspective, Culturgest presents the Steve Paxton cycle, which includes an exhibition curated by João Fiadeiro and Romain Bigé and the staging of some historical dance performances. 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 two 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.

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