NET/TEN Shareback: <fidget> - Movement, Improvisation, and Adrenaline: A Conversation

Spring 2017 Travel Grant Recipient

Dancers Megan Bridge and Beau Hancock of fidget (Philadelphia, PA) traveled to East Charleston, VT to work with Steve Paxton and Lisa Nelson in their studio. The studio time focused on studying and learning PA RT, an improvised duet that Paxton and Nelson performed from 1978-2002.


In July 2017, Megan Bridge and Beau Hancock, dancers with <fidget> in Philadelphia, traveled to Mad Brook Farm in Vermont for a one-week residency with Steve Paxton and Lisa Nelson, elders in the field of contemporary dance improvisation. Hancock and Bridge learned the structure for PA RT, Paxton and Nelson’s signature duet work which they toured from 1978-2002. The four artists had long and far ranging conversations, which were all recorded. A thirty-minute excerpt of their final conversation, on Sunday July 16, is shared here. The conversation ranges from quality of attention in improvisation being more important than the movement, to stillness as a strategy, to adrenaline as an invisible force. Towards the end, the four discuss forward steps and how the concept of author is transferred within an improvisational work like this. The Backyard (after Nelson/Paxton’s PA RT, 1978-2002) is the new duet work that Bridge and Hancock are now sharing as a performance practice. The Backyard premiered in Philadelphia on July 27, 2017, and will have its European premiere in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in March 2018. 

Time code and summary of conversation: 

0  Lisa talking about quality of attention that makes improvisation compelling, more so than movement choices

2:34  Lisa asking how does one practice that? Also, what are the goals of this performance practice, aside from pleasure?

3:23 Megan talking about defining movement goals through feedback from video, working on quality of attention in any kind of movement

4:14 Steve asking about audience…are there strategies that give the audience a better ride in terms of watching movement?

4:40 Megan talking about using stillness as a strategy, using video feedback to make sure there is variety in movement choices

6:30  Megan talking about this practice being an incredible vehicle for Beau and her to cultivate a shared improv practice

7:10 Lisa saying that PA RT is so specific to the conditions of its time…what are the conditions of our time? Meg/Beau could channel Lisa/Steve, chew on their movement, then discard it, but not avoid it.

13:10  all talking about authorship, “turf,” transference of the work, acknowledging inspiration from PA RT

22:36  Lisa talking about adrenaline rush

23:36  Steve talking about adrenaline as invisible force

24:46  Lisa talking about “showing how the body thinks”

25:26  Steve talking about being aware, not going on a rant

28:26  Steve talking about how this study (adrenaline, not going on a rant) will reward you in life, and how he was led to this awareness through different movement practices (Tai Chi, Aikido, different movement states)

29:58  Steve says it’s not our responsibility to fill the time

31:16  Ripples on the pond analogy, using stillness to make movement appear

33:36  question of authorship, concept of the new work being “after” Nelson/Paxton




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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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