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Steve Paxton: Drafting Interior Techniques

February 20 – May 10 2020

Like the famous tree which was unsure whether it would be making noise should it fall to the ground in a forest without people, there is a way of looking at things which renders them performance.Steve Paxton, 1967

Azkuna Zentroa – Alhóndiga Bilbao presents the exhibition Steve Paxton: Drafting Interior Techniques, in collaboration with Culturgest Lisboa and curated by Romain Bigé and João Fiadeiro. This show is the first retrospective exhibition dedicated to North-American choreographer Steve Paxton’s work and legacy, who developed the Contact Improvisation technique.

Steve Paxton in a performance with David Moss in performance, January, 1978. Joy of Movement Center, Cambridge, MA

The exhibition is aimed at giving a sense of the practices, intuitions and sensations of Paxton’s dancing body. Organized in eight ‘studies’, each of them pointing to an ‘interior technique’ of the improvising body-in-motion, it is built around a puzzle Paxton persistently posed to himself in the dance studio: what is my body doing when I am not conscious of it?

Thus focusing on dance-as-practice as much as dance-as-performance, the exhibition turns the Exhibition Hall of Azkuna Zentroa into contemporary dance studios, where visitors and dancers are invited to inquire about their own movements. Steve Paxton: Drafting Interior Techniques is laid out as an exhibition in live motion, showcasing audiovisual pieces, interviews and original installations which reflect upon movement from the perspective of a dancing bodymind.

Honouring the multiple facets of the dance maker, the exhibition is accompanied by a public programme composed by a cycle of performances, lectures and workshops, alongside Contact Improvisation sessions led by industry professionals.

Steve Paxton: Drafting Interior Techniques is an original idea of Culturgest Lisboa, where it was first presented between March and July 2019


Steve Paxton (Arizona, 1939), is one of the forerunners of contemporary dance. A dancer, he danced in the José Limón and Merce Cunningham companies in the early 1960s, and rapidly went on to cofound several collective choreographic adventures: the Judson Dance Theater, Grand Union, and Contact Improvisation, a form of art-sport practiced today in many countries around the world. An improviser and performer, he has collaborated with many visual and dance artists, including Robert Rauschenberg, Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer, Deborah Hay, Simone Forti, Nancy Stark Smith, Lisa Nelson, and many more. His research notably led him to develop a somatic practice, Material for the Spine, as well as to the writing of many articles, most of them published in Contact Quarterly (USA). Since 1970, he has been living in Mad Brook Farm, an artists and farmers commune in Northern Vermont.

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