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Dance dept. press release   Date: 11/4/11 Bookmark and Share

Legendary Dancer, Choreographer to Visit Smith

Originator of Contact Improvisation Steve Paxton to Speak Nov. 9

Legendary dancer and choreographer Steve Paxton, the originator of the dance technique called Contact Improvisation, will visit Smith on Wednesday, Nov. 9, when he will be joined by dance faculty members Chris Aiken and Angie Hauser in discussing Paxton's influential article, “Drafting Interior Techniques,” written in 1993. Also joining the discussion will be cognitive neuroscientist and dancer Asaf Bachrach.

Steve Paxton

The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Neilson Reading Room.

This is a unique opportunity to participate in a conversation with Paxton, who is widely considered one of the most influential and groundbreaking artists of the last 50 years. The discussion will range among ideas on dance, cognition and the relationship between perception and imagination.

For 40 years, Steve Paxton has conducted research on the merits of improvisation as a more pure art form. He has received grants from Change, Inc., the Foundation for Performance Arts, John D.Rockefeller Fund, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has been awarded two NY Bessie Awards. He was one of the founders of the Judson Dance Theater, Grand Union, Contact Improvisation, and Touchdown Dance for the visually disabled (UK), and began his career studying modern dance techniques, ballet, Aikido, Tai Chi Chuan, and Vipassana meditation. He performed with the Merce Cunningham Dance Co. from 1961 to 1965. A contributing editor to Contact Quarterly dance and improvisation journal, he lectures, performs, choreographs and teaches primarily in the USA and Europe.

Chris Aiken, assistant professor of dance, is a leading performer and teacher in the field of dance improvisation and Contact Improvisation. His work has evolved through ongoing investigations of performance, learning, perception and imagination, and has been significantly influenced through the somatic practices of the Alexander Technique, ideokinesis, yoga and structural integration. Chris has performed and collaborated with many renowned dance artists, including Steve Paxton, Kirstie Simson, Nancy Stark Smith, Peter Bingham, Andrew Harwood, Ray Chung and Angie Hauser. He has received numerous awards for his artistic work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as commissions from the Walker Art Center, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Dance Theater Workshop and the National Performance Network.

Asaf Bachrach has practiced Contact Improvisation for 15 years. He has danced, studied and has been presented in Tel Aviv, New York, Paris and Boston. Among his more influential professors are Kirstie Simson, Lisa Nelson, Andrew Harwood, Dieter Heitkamp and Steve Paxton. Since 2000 he has taught in Europe, the United States and Argentina. He is a cognitive neuroscientist (Ph.D. MIT 2008) working on the cognitive architecture underlying language and related capacities (music, theory of mind and more recently, dance). Asaf met Steve Paxton during CI36, a meeting that has profoundly inspired him and brought about a reconceptualization of his own dance practice and pedagogy helping him to find the potential for a bridge between the practice of dance and the sciences.

Angie Hauser, assistant professor of dance, is a choreographer, dancer and teacher. She teaches Creative Process, Composition/Improvisation and Movement Technique. Hauser is a member of the Bebe Miller Company (NYC) and has worked with the company as a dance collaborator since 2000. She received a BESSIE (New York Dance and Performance Award) for her choreographic and performance work in the company’s piece, Landing/Place. Hauser has collaborated with many gifted artists and leaders in the field of dance improvisation including Andrew Harwood, K.J. Holmes, Darrell Jones, and Kathleen Hermesdorf. She has an ongoing collaboration with dance artist Chris Aiken creating evening length performances in collaboration with musicians, dancers and designers.

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