30 January 2023
Recording of the week: The role of the creator in improvised dance
This week’s selection comes from Giulia Baldorilli, Sound and Vision Reference Specialist.
Photo by Ahmad Odeh on Unsplash.
In this 1991 interview from the collection ‘ICA talks’ (C95/795), the renowned artist and dancer Trisha Brown considers the experience and exploration of gravity in her works, and discusses the role of gender in improvised partnering performances.
Years ago I used to practice contact improvisation, a movement technique and art dance style that originated in downtown New York in the late sixties.
The central idea of contact improvisation is around finding the body’s balance in relation to the partner by sharing weight and touch; forms and movements are thus created when the bodies meet, initiated and transformed by the music or simply by vocal instructions.
Movement awareness is intrinsically related to how much information we can gather from other people’s bodies, through the constant dialogic sharing of touch points. There are no rules, only bodies listening to each other in their search for a shared centre of gravity.
An interesting point that Trisha considers is around the importance of physical strength and gender roles in this improvised dance: how much of the silent communication of movements is in fact created by the male partner?
Ultimately, it makes me wonder how much we are aware, in the process of making, of who is the final ‘creator’ of a performance.
 Nancy Stark Smith, 'Harvest: One history of contact improvisation', Contact Quarterly, The Place Issue, 32/2 (2006): https://contactquarterly.com/cq/unbound/view/harvest-a-history-of-ci#$.