Steve Paxton


"is a system. It attempts to examine the spine of Contact Improvisation.

I began it in 1986, in NYC for a workshop at Movement Research. I was interested in alloying a technical approach to the improvisational results which had appeared in the bodies of Contact Improvisers. In allied martial arts, such as Aikido or Tai Chi Chuan, there is an attempt to make the central mass and thus the spine elusive. In Contact Improvisation the spine is given to one’s partner. However baring injury, the spine and some of its musculature work almost invisibly. Via exercise, ideokinetic imagery, and specific examples I wanted to bring to consciousness the subtle sensation, the moments when usage reveals operations of the skeleton, the muscular connections available between pelvis and fingertips, the soft energetic support of leverage which I take to be chi or ki..... It is all to bring movement to consciousness"

Steve Paxton: Material for the Spine, Dance Theatre Journal, Volume 20, no. 4, 2005

Short video: Material for the Spine

Steve Paxton researched the fiction of cultured dance and the ‘truth’ of improvisation for 35 years. He was one of the founders of The Judson Dance Theatre, Grand Union and Contact Improvisation, the ‘artsport’ that has transformed dance, movement and physical theatre vocabulary worldwide in the last thirty years. He lectures, performs, choreographs and teaches primarily in the USA and Europe.

See the Contact Improv website for additional information.