“what can be learned by catching a hurtling body?”

May 18, 2011

the interaction between bodies in steve paxton‘s “chute” is like no dance i have ever seen before!!! steve and his students are practicing his dance form, contact improvisation, at the john weber gallery in new york in 1972. experimenting with the act of falling, they remain connected and improvise their movements based on each other, their own sense of balance and weight, and basic physics.

nancy stark smith is another dancer who worked extensively with steve and developed the form. in her book, Caught Falling: The Confluence of Contact Improvisation, Nancy Stark Smith, and other Moving Ideas, she writes:

“Contact Improvisation is a dance form, originated by American choreographer Steve Paxton in 1972, based on the communication between two or more moving bodies that are in physical contact and their combined relationship to the physical laws that govern their motion—gravity, momentum, inertia.

The body, in order to open to these sensations, must learn to release excess muscular tension and abandon a certain quality of willfulness to experience the natural flow of movement. Practice includes rolling, falling, being upside down, following a physical point of contact, supporting and giving weight to a partner.

Contact improvisations are spontaneous physical dialogues that range from stillness to highly energetic exchanges. Alertness is developed in order to work in an energetic state of physical disorientation, trusting in one’s basic survival instincts. It is a free play with balance, self-correcting the wrong moves and reinforcing the right ones, bringing forth a physical/emotional truth about a shared moment of movement that leaves the participants informed, centered, and enlivened.

the whole thing just makes me want to flop around on the ground on a mat!

video via google & nancy’s quote via contactimprov.net

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