a wakeup call to deadened urbanites (Steve Paxton)


“I think that one of the reasons I got involved in dance
is to finish my movement development.
Because I have a hunger to find,
and to finish,
and to explore,
to do essentially what babies do when they begin to move.
A hunger to find out more of what movement is or can be.
I think it provides a service to keep the search alive…”

More below within the video:



I found the video above through the blog of Tom Tabaczynski, Critical Somaesthetics. Tom was kind enough to post a link and quote to Konstantinos Koukopoulos‘s brief post about Steve Paxton. I have read that Steve Paxton is the creator of Contact Improvisation.

7 thoughts on “a wakeup call to deadened urbanites (Steve Paxton)

  1. Gregory Krowicki

    Feldenkrais method is one of the best structured movement study. Contact improvisation is an amaising method too but more experimental and less structured. It is somehow obvious why so many people try to learn how to move, because no one has been teaching us how to move especially in ex-communist countries, and even more because what we have been learning about movement during childhood was in most cases completely wrong. During our parennts and grand parents times it Was even worse. There is a very good website and foundation in the US- http://www.rie.org . Actually I am not so sure that Contact improvisation can teach us how to move, but dancing CI we can have a lot of fun and we can learn a lot about relationship especially dialogue. Studying Feldenkrais method is more complex and long term committment. Now, Paxton has “invented” CI in the times of the experimental, physical theatre. He knew Grotowski work and several of his collegues did learn from Grotowski directly or indirectly. It is interesting for me that movements like CI or 5 Rythms lead me to Feldenkrais, but when I ve started Feldenkrais I generally have stopped CI. May be it happened because I do not need CI so much any more or may be I am looking to upgrade my experience and physical know how to a more spiritual, inner degree.

    1. nagster Post author

      Hi Gregory – Interesting website. It is amazing how much of our previous “knowledge” of childhood has been overturned. In the U.S. they used to think that leaving children alone in the hospital for week would not harm them and they would only allow parents to visit them once a week for an hour! A study by John Bowlby proved how wrong that idea was and they slowly changed policies. There are many more examples we could find.

      I’ve only done a little bit of contact improv. I enjoyed it. I think it’s wonderful and can be an amazing complement to the Feldenkrais Method. But like you, I don’t think it can directly teach us to move better or differently. Well, perhaps it can, but not with the specificity and power of Feldenkrais.

      Thanks for joining the conversation! – Ryan

  2. Istvan

    Thanx Ryan for another intriguing text! I resonate with his thoughts on the restrictions urban living has to offer and often wondered how all those hours of sitting could be alleviated. Not everyone can start dancing, though one of my best exercise experiment was when I went to a jazz dance class for a year. And have been planning to start some ballroom dancing, tango maybe, for yrs. Meanwhile Feldenkrais, swimming, Nordic walking (being out in nature is an added bonus) is my routine and recently Pilates that is great fun. AND I have been trying to cut my time on the internet – with little success as you see.
    best,
    Istvan

  3. Robbie

    The contrast between the content of Paxton’s remarks and his attitude (acture) is stark….
    The content of his remarks is likewise at odds with reality. Urban living can deaden ones vitality, but on the other hand offers and fosters the development of the greatest creativity in the history of mankind. Martha Graham would not find dancers, nor establish a dance company in some rural village or hamlet. The great theatres, museums, concert halls, centers of scientific research are not to be found in places like — fill in the gap—but are principally found in great urban centres.
    Nature in all its splendors does indeed serve as inspiration for creativity, but the manifestation/implemenation/expression of that creativity is in urban centers – where frequent intense diverse interchange of ideas is a constant and where the
    audience is present to appreciate and use the products of this creativity.

  4. nagster Post author

    Hi Itsvan – Good to see your comment. I appreciate how you are bringing yourself into action with new activities. I currently have martial arts on my “to do” list but have not gotten to it. On the other hand, I have been doing a great deal of ATM for the last few years. I suppose we create our victories where we can!

    Robbie – Thanks. I too, found a disconnect between Paxton’s words and his nonverbal behavior. However, it’s only one snippet of his life and I don’t want to read too much into it. I could relate to him and other’s like him as people looking for more choices. Looking but perhaps not actualizing. Not having a way out.

    My view on city life is that it has the possibility to save us. They are more energy efficient and can potentially have a lower footprint than living in the country. Actually, they already do, but the efficiencies can improve dramatically. I don’t think he was looking for a return to a previous was of life. But again, I don’t know much about the man.

    cheers – Ryan

  5. Irene Gutteridge

    hey men,
    first off, I agree that city life has the potential to be good for us – have a read of Stewart Brand’s latest, Whole Earth Discipline on this topic.
    As for the “acture” of Paxton, sure, he was hunched over, but he was speaking his ethos and not in his “dance”, I wonder if us Feldies are too stringent on such “outside” views of person…
    finally, Moshe’s ‘CONTENT’, many have said is applied martial arts. You could even say it is dance, or…..fitness…..or…..

    For example take a string of ATM’s:

    say, 4-point, with spider walk, with flipping the heels to squat with a judo roll thrown in here and there, along with some basic rolling ATM’s, and speed it up a tad and you have a full on workout that is sensory based (granted you begin slow…and build) and gets every single orientation, body part and movement possibility jiving.[i did this this summer and it was brilliant!] you could call it dance, or CI, or fitness class, or simply human movement.

    I’m finding that the “labelling” of our activities, Feldenkrais included, can become hazardous if we are not careful.

    thanks for posting this Ryan. It’s about to become a post on the human groove tonight!

    1. nagster Post author

      Hi Irene – I agree that labeling can be both a blessing and a curse. I look upon Paxton as a brother. His quest for meaning is one that many are on. There are more than a handful of Feldenkrais “trained” people who lost something essential by parroting pieces of Moshe’s experience. Present company excluded, of course! cheers – Ryan

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