A cycle on American choreographer, dancer and improviser Steve Paxton will be staged in March by Culturgest in Lisbon and will include the presentation of historical performances, conferences and an exhibition.
According to Culturgest, the cycle begins on March 9 and will be attended by Steve Paxton, who will be in Lisbon under this program that aims to demonstrate the transversality of his work.
The series includes a curated exhibition by Romain Bigé and João Fiadeiro (from March 9 to July 14), the presentation of some historical performances on stage (09, 20, 21, 22 and 23 March), a series of five conferences, the first of which with Paxton himself (March 10, March 21, May 30, June 6, and June 25).
It is also planned the involvement of families and schools, with the presentation of a performance by Tiago Cadete and Leonor Cabral (March 20-23) and two workshops on “Contact Improvisation” techniques and “Material for the Column” on a date to be announced.
Over the last six decades, Steve Paxton, born in 1939, “has continuously shaped the face of dance,” recalls Culturgest.
The choreographer began his career in the 1950s, danced with Jose Limon and Merce Cunningham, was one of the founders of the Judson Dance Theater, the source of collective creations that laid the foundations of postmodern dance and founding member of the New York improvisation collective Grand Union.
He invented two techniques – ‘Contact Improvisation’ and ‘Material for the Spine’ – and he came across artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, of the visual arts.
However, he has written extensively on movement – more than 100 articles since 1970 – and has performed at impromptu dance shows around the world.
Culturgest also points out that his work has been influencing choreographers and dancers, often to the point of losing the origin of some of his research, namely in the field of analysis and integration of everyday movements: how to walk, the importance of touch, weight and balance and opening to the non-technical body.
“In Portugal, the thinking of Steve Paxton and Judson Dance Theater had a decisive influence on many of the members of the so-called New Portuguese Dance, who shared in various aspects their concerns about the relation of art and everyday life“, stresses the about the cycle.
Steve Paxton’s choreographic work is considered by experts to be one of the fundamental references of contemporary movement practices, spanning all of the dance that follows the American choreographer Merce Cunningham.
“Continually at the forefront of American postmodern movements, Paxton has always left the path open to the contamination between art and everyday life,” he emphasizes.
The exhibition ‘Outline of Interior Techniques’ is the first retrospective look at the work cycle and the legacy of Steve Paxton, curated by Romain Bigé and João Fiadeiro, who studied with the American choreographer, having developed methodological and academic research on and from your thinking.
Conceived around one of the artist’s most obsessive issues – “what does my body do when I’m not aware of it?” – the exhibition challenges visitors to wander through the dance studio, “not just to see dance, but mainly to watch the movement with the eyes of a dancer“.
In the context of the Steve Paxton cycle, Culturgest features three historical pieces by Paxton, reinterpreted by the choreographer and Slovenian dancer Jurij Konjar, namely ‘Flat’ (1964), ‘Satisfyin Lover’ (1967).
Steve Paxton began his career with studies in various fields, from ballet and modern dance techniques to oriental martial arts, which have contaminated his work over the years.
Evoking the experience of the game, influenced by the practice of gymnastics and Aikido – a Japanese martial art that makes the violence of any attack ineffective – it created, in the early 1970s, the technique ‘Contact Improvisation’ which continues to feed, somewhat all over the world, countless artistic and somatic investigations.
Having spent many years on tour, improvising on solo, duet or group, Paxton has lived since the 1970s in an art community in northern Vermont.