After organising activities with Merce Cunningham and Simone Forti, the Museo Reina Sofía presents the work of choreographer and dancer Steve Paxton (USA, 1939), a central figure in the development of contemporary dance and the creator of contact improvisation. Paxton, a key performer in Merce Cunningham’s dance company during its most productive period in the 1960s, was a founding member of the Judson Dance Theater, together with Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer, David Gordon, Deborah Hay and Lucinda Childs, and the group Grand Union in 1973.
Yvonne Rainer joked how she invented running and Paxton invented walking and indeed, the daily act of walking is a core part of many of his early pieces, for instance Proxy (1961), Transit (1962), English (1963) and Satisfyin Lover (1967). At the beginning of the 1970s, Paxton also started to develop a form of dance called contact improvisation, based on the communication between two moving bodies that are in physical contact and their combined relationship to space and the physical laws that govern their movement (inertia, momentum, weight). The body, in order to open to these sensations, learns to release excess muscular tension and experience the natural flow of movement.
On this occasion, a solo devised by Paxton entitled Bound will be reconstructed and performed, for the first time in Spain, by Jurij Konjar. This piece is also accompanied by a workshop held by Konjar and a conversation with Steve Paxton. Bound was created in 1982 for the Spazio Zero, Rome, and performed in Great Britain, Belgium and, one year later, at The Kitchen in New York, where the recording this reconstruction is based on was carried out.
Bound combines improvised dance episodes with theatrical actions. It is a dance piece made up of vignettes, each one isolated, but, like numbers in a row, it starts to become something greater as they accumulate. Some episodes are dry but resonate poetic thoughts. Some are unchoreographed dance remarks. The music is eclectic, and the images are not immediately logical. Perhaps, as Paxton writes, it is like a chance meeting with a slightly drunken man in a quiet bar. You begin to make conversation, and gradually his disjointed story emerges, lived, as lives are, one moment after another, but now remembered as fragments of a journey, finally to explain how he came to be sitting alone, elbows on a bar and a glass in hand, talking to you.