Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive performance clip
The Improvisation Project
August 8, 1998
Steve Paxton is perhaps best known as the founder of the dance technique called contact improvisation, a form of partnering that uses physical laws such as friction, momentum, gravity, and inertia to explore relationships between dancers. Born in 1939, Paxton was a member of José Limón's company in 1960 and danced for Merce Cunningham from 1961 until 1964. As a founder of Judson Dance Theatre and later Grand Union, Paxton was instrumental in ushering in the era of postmodern dance, and he was particularly intrigued by the use of pedestrian movement. While with Judson, he performed works by Yvonne Rainer and Trisha Brown, among others. In 2001, Mikhail Baryshnikov continued his exploration of the Judson influence by performing a reconstruction of Paxton’s 1964 solo, Flat. His Pillow appearances include this lecture-demonstration explaining the technique of contact improvisation.