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“Chute,” Contact Improvisation at John Weber Gallery, 1972

From Performance Assembles Publics: Contact Improvisation as Landmark

Just a year into what would become a decades-long role promoting and collaborating with artists like Alighiero e Boetti, Adrian Piper, and Daniel Buren, John Weber helped launch Contact Improvisation, staging its first public presentation at the Soho gallery he founded in 1971. If I understand correctly, Dan Graham arranged Weber’s invitation to Steven Paxton to develop Paxton’s nontheatrical form of dance presentations. “You come, we’ll show you what we do” was the title chosen for the Contact Improvisation tour that followed in the months after.

Multiple arcs intersected and influenced each other through collaboration and support: the dancers with whom Paxton developed this early research, the tradition of the white cube as a space of open experimentation (even in its private and commercial dimension), the artist-as-curator promoting and fostering the work, organizations supporting Paxton through grants for travel and accommodation for fifteen colleagues he met hosting workshops, and, of course, Christiansen’s camera, which had assembled a substantial enough record to produce this video, years after the initial performances, in 1978.

Camera: Steve Christiansen
Editing: Steve Christiansen, Lisa Nelson, Steve Paxton
Narration: Steve Paxton
Performers: Steve Paxton, Danny Lepkoff, Barbara Dilley, David Woodberry, Laura Chapman, Nancy Stark Smith, Mark Petersen, Emily Siege, Nita Little, Leon Felder, Tim Butler, Curt Siddall, Tom Hast, Mary Fulkerson

April 23, 2019

Curated by

Jeremiah Day