Growing patterns for a new imagination

The Wise Body 2011English
Jacky Lansley, The wise body: Conversation with experienced dancers (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2011): 37-50.

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Jacky: What is your earliest memory of dance? Earliest positive memory?


Lisa: I think when I was about 3 I went to a dance class - which is so strange - to think that a dance class is probably my earliest memory of dance. The 'dance' was prancing around mimicking the story of the ugly duckling to a record. It's a vivid memory. I remember the dance studio in which it happened. I remember that it was something that was social because it was a group of people, so that value was part of what dancing was. I know I enjoyed it. Where I grew up in Queens, New York, there wasn't really any dancing around me except the marching bands that would occasionally come through the neighbourhood, with black men wearing green marching costumes. It was incredible colour to see and as they were marching, they were also playing instruments and that fascinated me - the rhythm and the colour. It's possible that I was attracted to it because of the music. I would not separate my early experiences from music.


Jacky: So already dance is social and it involves music and musicians?


Lisa: Right, early on.


Jacky: What made you decide to become a professional dancer?


Lisa: When I was 5 or 6 I started formally taking classes with a teacher, Nadya Romanoff Abeles, who had a children's dance company. We made our own dances and this was really my foundation because I love making dances. So I was very active making dances and I would choose music and I would make some kind of format for myself. By the time I was 9 or 10, I was making the dances to silence and then looking for music afterwards.


Jacky: So it was already quite a sophisticated process? And can you remember what kind of movement, and what your formats were?


Lisa: Well the first dance I made was called 'Paramesium' and the movement I think was very small and amorphous. I don't really remember the movement but I remember the dance, and I don't think that it had any music.


Jacky: And did you perform?


Lisa: We made and performed the dances. Nadya was a very colourful character who also taught us the history of ballet and the history of jazz. So I had a very early introduction to some fantastic music and an understanding of the history of ballet - the personalities, the styles - somehow that was all part of what modern dance was. I was aware that I was good at it and that I liked it. I went to dance classes and rehearsals once a week and we travelled from community centre to community centre with our show. That was very early, and I'm still doing that. My mother was very supportive, she got me to the dance class every week and once when I didn't want to go to a rehearsal she chased me around until I went. When I was 11 it was suggested that I go to study dance formally and I got into Juilliard 1Preparatory Division in Manhattan. Everything shifted then. I danced all day on Saturdays and studied Ballet, Graham and music theory and I was invited into the composition class. Most of the other students were older in the composition class. When I auditioned I remember the improvising pianist asked 'do you want fast music or slow music?' I don't know which one I said, but if I said 'slow' I danced fast and if

I said 'fast' I danced slow, and I remember Pearl Lang2 ,who was auditioning me, thought that was a bit advanced and invited me into her class. Because I wasn't following the music, something was very deliberate. I have to mention that I also studied piano and shifted to classical guitar when I was 12, so I was deeply involved with music.

At my second class, Pearl asked me to repeat a dance and although I thought I did, she said I didn't. I was totally shocked and she told me I had to remember my movements. So I worked out a strategy for remembering movements.


Jacky: And you thought you had repeated the dance?


Lisa: Well, I was sure it was the same dance. I choreographed only solos and at one point she asked us to choreograph a duet or a trio, and I tried and it didn't agree with me. I got a little ruined during that period because at the end, at sixteen, I think I had lost my more personal movement, I was more influenced by technique and I think I was doing less interesting movement than I had during the earlier years.


Jacky: You were doing what sort of movement? Graham?


Lisa: Yes and ballet, and I had to get rid of them later, which wasn't hard because I knew what had been there before. I remember thinking about how to continue dancing when I was through with high school - whether to go to a conservatory, like Juilliard, which I didn't want to do, or to become a 'choreographer'; but even as I thought it, I was asking the question - what the hell is a choreographer? I remember thinking that I was not really sure, but I made a decision to go to Bennington College, 3 a liberal arts college which took a creative approach to dance, from where things shifted quite a bit.


Jacky: So that was the main intention, to choreograph? Somehow it got separate from being a dancer?


Lisa: Well, I knew I didn't want to be in someone's company, but I wanted to continue to perform. Performing was already habitual; in the earlier years it was a great pleasure and I got very high. Though it became a struggle on and off over the years. I would make my dances, sketching out the shape of things, but they weren't going to really live until I was performing them.


Jacky: You were working visually with yourself?


Lisa: A little bit. I would make the dances in my living room, which was very small with furniture, and there was a window in which I could see my reflection. I would work at night, but I could only see my reflection from the waist up.


Jacky: You had an interest in the sculptural qualities of movement?


Lisa: I had an interest in what it looked like, so I wasn't simply making the dance from an internal place. I changed movements based on that window image. I was crafting both from the outside and the inside, and also accumulating a dance, one movement after another, but I would always find a place for the movements I was interested in if the order didn't seem right.


Jacky: Given that you started that very integrated choreographic process so young, which I think is very unusual, what do you think it has given you?


Lisa: Well, for one thing, habit. It was really important that I had a habit, a making- habit with dancing. When I was 24, in 1973, I quit dancing, which was a huge discovery because I had been dancing all my life. I didn't know whether I would ever start again.


Jacky: And how long was that for?


Lisa: It turned into being maybe 3 years. To comeback, I felt like I really needed to make a commitment as an adult to something that I had done more or less without question since I was a child. For about half a year before I stopped, I had started walking out of performances, and was having a hard time performing.


Jacky: You were improvising exits?


Lisa: Yes and not really knowing that I wasn't going to return but finding myself unable to return to the space, and that was the beginning of wondering what I was doing. There were a lot of things happening at once; I had gained a lot of weight, my body was really uncomfortable, so it was because of both the loss of contact with my physicality and the loss of contact with what I was working on that I started walking out of performances.

When I was 27, I felt I started from the beginning for the first time and was looking for some anatomical information that I could support my teaching with. My teaching up until then was concerned with how one learns, because I didn't feel that I had any technical information to share. I didn't then know of a technical training that could look at your own organization and help maximize it rather than change your organization to fit some other person's idea about what you should be doing with your body. Though I had bumped into release technique4 the year before I quit, it didn't appeal to me. Release technique seemed to be focused on muscle and skeletal systems and although I knew it wasn't designed towards a particular style of movement, somehow I couldn't relate to muscles and skeleton as the source of dancing, even though I certainly had plenty of muscle aches and pains.

Although Graham crafted a technique that came from the centre, relating to eastern philosophies of movement, it too just didn't fit my body very well.

Anyway, I had started to dance again around 1976 and I had been looking for a physiology to study when I bumped into Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and BodyMind Centering. 5 In 1977 Steve Paxton6 and I were doing duet performances with solo dancing and some contact, and Bonnie came to see our show and invited us over for dinner and gave us a review on our brain function, which was hilarious and fascinating. After this meeting, I decided to go to study with Bonnie. I related well to her experiential study of anatomy which went beyond muscles and skeleton, and the learning process that she was involved in matched my learning process.

Bonnie's work was very important because I immediately thought I could identify the physical source of my own dancing, which was from the organs. I had a very active torso - who knows what I was ever doing with my arms and legs and I was and am very active in the organs and in the eyes. That gave me a lot of material to explore, since her system is so global, everything is interlaced. One way I used her work was to try to connect my upper and lower body. I had an extreme upper/lower body split which made me a very bad gymnast, for one thing. So I had a clear technical need for 'improving' my instrument, and practicing contact improvisation, which I thought of as a fantastic diagnostic dance form that provided feedback on the integration of my upper and lower limbs into my centre. The split slowly came together through working with glands and organs, mostly through breathing and visualizing anatomical structures.


Jacky: How did you first encounter contact improvisation?


Lisa: I first saw it on video in 1972 shortly after its first performances. I had returned to Bennington to teach dance there and met Steve who'd been teaching there for the preceding half-year and was developing contact with some of the students. Contact totally blew me away. My improvisational work up to then was also based on communication and touch was not alien.

And Contact was fantastic because it was a self-teaching form. That appealed to me because my main interest in teaching was about how one learns. In my dance classes I had devised ways in which everyone was teaching each other and here was a form that taught itself, and that was fabulously interesting to me. So the reflexes being the teacher and the movement being the teacher in Steve's formulation of contact was a complete eureka.

What also intrigued me was the idea that there were images that you could follow rather than impose onto your intention. Contact was so clear - you just fell and you followed what happened; you didn't just touch someone, you leaned on them, and you followed the weight.


Jacky: There is a strong sense of emotional embodiment in your work. Can you talk about this?


Lisa: When I was working with Daniel Nagrin's improvisation company, the Workgroup, in “71 and '72 in New York, which based its structures on Joseph Chaikin's Open Theatre8 exercises of interaction and emotional conflict, I found no physical underpinning for the work. When he offered us imagery, like 'I am not an animal, I am a human being; or images that were conflictual or emotional images, I couldn't find a way to work with them, they just didn't translate for me into movement. So I was aware that I wasn't very good working with metaphorical images. My strategy was to start moving and find something that was going on in my body and work from that. When I created images for myself, they came from my physical circumstance and if I had to describe them to somebody I would usually describe them with a language of limitation like 'I can't move my arm' or 'my hand is connected to my breast' and I would explore whatever movement came out of that. I created localized physical limitations and then let the body deal with it.

A year or so earlier, I had taken some classes with Judith Dunn who was an early improvisational artist who taught at Bennington and had been a Cunningham dancer and, like Steve, was associated with the Judson Dance Theater9( she was married to Robert Dunn 10who taught the composition classes that led to Judson). One day, in the middle of one of her improv sessions she handed me a pair of shoes and said, 'you are doing so much with your hands, why don't you just hold these shoes?' and I held the shoes and what happened was so obvious and profound. I held the shoes throughout the session but I could tell that it didn't change what I was doing and that I was still very hand-orientated. So holding the shoes as a 'limitation' on my movement didn't get to the root of anything about my movement or where

it was coming from; its rhythmic and energetic organization didn't change at all. I realized I needed some new sources to study movement.


Jacky: Just to clarify- when you were given the limitation of the shoes but were continuing to work the same way, was that about a sense of not being able to focus and direct - there was some kind of reflexive work going on in the hands that you wanted to understand? Was there pleasure in the work with the hands?


Lisa: Now I understand a lot more. My hands and my eyes - both are extremities and quick as lightning - were and are still a very central part of my body thinking. They're both a source of where the movement comes from and my antennae – the way I reach into and support myself in the world; and my feet also, I was very feety. At the time of the hand thing, I wasn't thinking about my hands, I wasn't shaping them. My hands were rather eclectic. I was never using them gesturally as many people do. In a way they were disconnected from my body and awareness. I was in pieces. The hands were a manifestation of an energetic layer of my movement source. The same with my eyes, though my eyes are reflectors of my attention and intention, I've come to learn they're more often the initiators and stabilizers of my movement. My eyes have been a very active part of my dancing since I was very

little, but I wasn't attending to them at all, neither was I attending to my hands, but I did see that putting something at the ends of my body, the shoes, didn't change my source which was really energetic and organic; it didn't change my basic pattern at that point. That's all I knew.


Jacky: So you discovered Contact?


Lisa: When I discovered Contact, it was very restful as a technique for moving improvisationally - but for me it was also about following and, at that point, gave me an opportunity to let go of a lot of excess movement which was irrelevant to the contact interactions. There were two things that weren't that appealing: One - I just wasn't much of an athlete or gymnast and didn't love rolling; it never really appealed to me. I was intrigued with learning how to use my own weight hut wasn't that interested in carrying people around. Two - because I was small, people liked to lift me and throw me around and I didn't enjoy that. I didn't like it politically that the small women were thrown around. Even though contact gave you the opportunity to be on the bottom as much as on the top, my shoulders didn't really accommodate big people. I could lift people but it wasn't a pleasure, and my politics weren't that

strong that I felt like I had to prove something by carrying men on my shoulders. I was fascinated by how the form of the dance came naturally out of the technique. I loved watching it and I loved the reflex play, particularly when I was going fast. I found my reflexes very titillated and because I didn't like to roll that much I tended to save myself on my feet - I had a low centre of gravity - right before hitting the ground with my body. I was constantly surprised how ingenious my body was that I could be in a flying fall and find my feet.

But that was beside the point. I also didn't want to practice rolling, I didn't want to learn new formal movement patterns. I was clone with formal techniques. I had stopped studying them when I was 18 or 19, and when I stopped dancing at 24 I wanted to let some of my muscle patterns atrophy; disuse seemed like the fastest way to get rid of pointed toes and stuff like that - and it did happen over time. That was a consequence of quitting, I was being very physical, working on the farm, but I was not pointing my toes. I mean working on the farm you just don't point your toes! So those things slowly atrophied, which was fine, and when I started dancing again, I just didn't want to acquire another habitual movement pattern, like rolling. Like the techniques I practiced when I was younger - Graham and ballet, I was good enough to be asked to join someone's company, hut I didn't feel good at it. It was painful, it was alien to my body. I put a lot of dancing into my technical training, so I suppose it

looked OK but I didn't always enjoy it and I didn't want to change my body to learn another one. I could see that the contact technique as it was developing with Steve and Nancy Stark Smith 11 and Danny Lepkoff, 12who were all fabulous gymnasts, had an inclination towards a language of movement which wasn't mine.

But those were very conscious choices I was able to make and I was determined to learn the basics of contact which was through work with the weight. I had studied T'ai Chi when I was 19 in New York, realizing that was my ticket to getting grounded. Contact clearly was also my way to learn about the weight going down, but I wanted to learn it in my own structure with my own movement. However, working with carrying and lifting people was very important in getting the feedback I needed to get the weight to flow down through my skeleton, so I couldn't discard the form of the practice.


Jacky: Can we turn to your work with video?


Lisa: That was serendipitous. When I stopped dancing in 1974, I picked up a video camera because it was there and discovered how much my sense of vision was my source of moving and connected to my choreographic urge. Earlier on, my sources for my improvisational dances and collaborations weren't about the details of movement, but more about relationship either to my environment or to other

people, it was about communication. Little by little I learnt about video through teaching it to the students at Bennington where I had been teaching dance. For a while I was just videoing everything around and learning how to see and edit. I was running a community cable TV station in the rural town near where I lived and programming everything, anything - farms, pigs, dance, town meetings, high

school theatre, everything around.

I wasn't a natural at all with the camera. I had never touched a camera in my life before picking up the video camera, so I really was learning from scratch. Video is an instant feedback system, much like contact is in movement. You shot and you looked right back at it and you could remember what you were thinking while shooting and have a dialogue with your own output/input. So it was a learning machine and it fit right into my passion with teaching about how you learn.

I was very bad at being pre-intentional with my looking: I didn't know what the frame was offering me and didn't know the conventions. I followed my nose. But I would see afterwards what got framed, and I became aware of my own patterns of organizing what I was looking at. I was looking through the camera with one eye while the other eye was closed and the camera was part of my head, so my whole

body was following my interest. In a sense, the image was always in my body which had to shape itself in a certain way to capture the image. I was becoming a container for my tool which was the camera itself - my body was an extension of the camera. With each successive zoom in, your movement changes. You become like the tail of the snake and your movement is completely connected to what you are framing. I did all kinds of experiments in my learning - including not looking through the camera but using it as a part of my body, and doing 'blind' work.


Jacky: Here, now, your eyes are very enlivened but yet they are also resting.


Lisa: Now I am so different with my eyes. They feel so calm now; I lost my far vision in my early 30s. Looking in the viewfinder at a fixed distance, for so many years, I slowly hurt my eyes. I still haven't done the exercises to correct that. I was like that with my body; I didn't quite want to correct my idiosyncrasies. I'm not an exercise person and I had a kind of jealous guarding of whatever was idiosyncratic about my movement. Though I needed to correct movement patterns sometimes, for example, to do contact and not get hurt. There were things about my posture that I didn't like and wanted to correct, I was hyper-extended and I did over a long period of time improve that, but there were other things that I didn't want to correct. Anyway, I was making very careful choices.


Jacky: Your body liked the feeling of its experience and emotional/historical information for better or worse?


Lisa: I was very stubborn. I felt like I knew what I wanted to cultivate and I was shy to say what it was, it was private. Because I wasn't achieving it necessarily, I didn't want it to be measured from the outside. I didn't want to compromise whatever little identity I felt connected to. My body was my expression, my imagination. Maybe I also had in me the memory of what it was before I started studying formal dance. At least I had had a lot of reminders that there was something special already in place, and I had experienced getting it covered up during those years of studying Graham and Ballet.


Jacky: Could you talk a little more about your relationship to choreography now, and how you craft movement.


Lisa: Even though I'm an improvisational performer, I craft movement through inner focuses. I try to narrow the movement palette down through various kinds of relationships such as the relationship between my vision and my breathing. I don't memorize movement, but I craft movement. Steve and I made one piece together called PA RT that had an open score for movement; it was the only performance piece where I didn't craft the movement palette in advance and was the least choreographic score of any dance I have ever made. We performed it occasionally, like once a year,

for about 24 years. The piece had an underlying sound score of Robert Ashley's13 opera 'Private Parts' and a structure of solo, duet, solo, duet and costumes we had assembled from clothes at hand, and minimal masks - sunglasses on Steve, a small drawn moustache on me. These elements seemed to be a very strong frame for us, a vehicle for a dialogue between us, so we somehow kept doing it. Because I didn't have a movement crafting score, it was like performing 'dancing' which I've never

otherwise done.


Jacky: How did the video work integrate with your dance making?


Lisa: I have always, rather reluctantly, made solos out of necessity because you just have to have them as a performer. But mostly I have worked in collaboration with other artists, usually one on one. By the 1980s I was teaching video to dancers and filmmakers and composition and vocal work in workshops. All these activities were made up of the same material - the co-teaching material - creating a grab bag of feedback systems for learning, self teaching, communication and collaboration. By 1984 or so it started to get very cumbersome to teach video the way I was teaching it, because it was so much about getting equipment together while touring. I got sick of it and I realized I didn't need the video to teach what I was teaching. I had distilled feedback systems and exercises to create mirrored explorations on both sides of the camera. You were doing the same thing whether you had the camera or not.


Jacky: Both groups, as it were, were in the seeing role?


Lisa: Always in both. So the 'tuning scores: which were part of my teaching development at that time, got clearer and clearer as I explored them purely in movement.


Jacky: So the tuning scores became part of the creative process? Could you explain more,about the tuning scores.


Lisa: Well, the scores address many questions I found elemental in watching dance, and particularly western concert dance and thus western improvisational dance. The feedback forms I found offered me a way to address the question of what we see when we are looking at a dance. How do dancers think? How do we make chokes? How does dance 'mean' to a dancer? There are many group or duet tuning scores which are improvisational composition or real-time editing practices. And there is a

solo practice that underlies the group activity. If I can say this very briefly, they're all based on instant feedback, showing each other what we see, what we value, recycling our vision and tuning in the dance that arises in the space. The dancers use two kinds of action tools: their movement and vocal calls, like 'end: 'pause: 'reverse: 'replace; 'report; etc., to make a satisfying experience for themselves while clearly communicating their desires to the group. Each player is performer, director and spectator at the same time, so we are completely interdependent. And the practice itself 1s a performance in itself. The scores also slow down the process fuelling the dance, which allows for detailed discussion afterwards about each person's perception of a moment of action. It is greatly satisfying to have a process to assess the dance both as it is happening and afterwards. In 1990, just after we finished building our studio in Vermont, some dancers came to work with me and we got involved with these scores together for the next 8 years.


Jacky: Was that Image Lab?


Lisa: That became Image Lab, which we named after several years - a core group with Karen Nelson, KJ Holmes and Scott Smith.


Jacky: So tuning is about communication, seeing, listening and fine tuning the senses?


Lisa: Right, tuning our senses and our perception of form. Playing with our opinions and making something together. Composition/ choreography for me wasn't about design, it wasn't about the organization of the outside; it was about how the body organizes itself to relate to the environment inside and around you which is ever changing. So it's observation of that constant tuning activity of the organism.


Jacky: You called your workshops the observatories?


Lisa: I called public showings of the tuning practice 'Observatories; because people can come and observe themselves observing. Because the process is slowed down, and the editing tools are simple to understand, it engages the viewer in observing their own editing process and desires while watching dance while at the same time becoming informed of what kinds of decisions dancers confront in navigating their physicality and making work.


Jacky: Do you involve detailed physiological information in this practice? I find that knowledge of the internal landscape encourages the imagination that you talk about. Do you do that work, do you bring that material in?


Lisa: I don't offer great detail. I try to give enough physiological references to the genetic design of the human sense organs and the synaesthesia that feeds our ability to organize a perception and assess our body's own way of making chokes. But I don't remember details myself, and in essence I don't have the time for it in the workshops. I tel1 people where to go for the information about how our organisms - the neurological organism, the organs, the fluids - are designed to bring us communication and dialogue within the body systems. What I offer are practices, models of exploration for observing oneself connect with the environment through movement. I'm offering interlocking hut simple maps of what you might observe which can lead you to wanting further anatomical information. I try and ground the explorations in the physical as much as possible through discussion and practice. It links to the awareness I really wish to see in looking at dancers and that I don't see very much, and I feel like a beginner - I mean it's just so slow.


Jacky: That's good to hear - I feel like that too! You have described a wonderful and interesting journey and a process that I can imagine will sustain and feed you and make you inquisitive for the rest of your life. Can I ask you, therefore, how you feel about getting older? Particularly as you have said you felt like a beginner, that you will just grow and keep growing, and that you have actually found a way of working.


Lisa: I was dancing less in those first few years working with Image Lab. I was about 40 and I started to watch my physicality and my energy begin to atrophy. I was sitting on my arse for 4 months a year making two Contact Quarterly14 magazines. I was farming 5 months a year and I had to travel to teach the rest of the year; any extra time I had I was researching with Image Lab who were a joy to work with. I was starting to worry that I wasn't dancing enough. Then, at 47, I got ill and I knew I had to change things, take care of my body. I had uterine fibroids and had no energy moving through the centre of my body, I couldn't even get up in one piece from the ground and stand. So I was deciding whether to stop dancing, because my options for healing were to have surgery, a quick solution with ominous future consequences, or wait years in the chance the fibroids would go away with menopause. Around this period I was on a long 7-week tour with a group of people, including performin PA RT with Steve, dancing more than I had in years and doing tons of teaching and being very active but struggling with energy because of the fibroids. Then, at the next to the last performance of the tour, all my dancing came back! It came back as if I was 20 years younger and I felt it was because I was finally dancing enough. It felt incredible. I was just completely taken, transported, my body re-appearing out of nowhere. I understood then that in order to keep dancing I had to find the way to dance more.


Jacky: Have you been dancing?


Lisa: I haven't quite enough, but I have been making more time for it. So when I'm traveling to teach or perform, I have been making tuning projects with small groups, either with colleagues or students, where I can dance more. I'm aware of what I have lost in my movement imagination. When I had the fibroids it was apparent to me that my imagination was still moving in the exact same way but my body wouldn't follow, as it is with any injury or time of change with the body. My ageing body carries the spectre of never reclaiming its physical imagination on the level that I was used to. So that was frustrating at first; my nervous system prepared to move but it wasn't able to follow through. Now I'm more used to it and I am growing new patterns from a new imagination. I'm not as reflexive as I used to be - provoking of accidents and surprise in my own movement - because I don't move fast for very long. But I'm finding another way that is really interesting - it delivers something else. In any case, though I find it shocking to have become a demographic - an old(er) dancer, I love looking at a mature dancer who tastes every moment of their movement.

Vermont, USA, August 2005




1. Juilliard: New York dance, drama and music school, offering pre-professional conservatory training.

2. Pearl Lang (1921-2009): US dancer, choreographer and teacher renowned as an interpreter and

propagator of the choreographic style of Martha Graham, and also for her own long-time dance

company, the Pearl Lang Dance Theater.

3. Bennington College: a liberal arts college located in Bennington, Vermont, USA. The college was

founded in 1932 as a women's college and became co-educational in 1969.

4. Release technique: an umbrella term encompassing a variety of different body practices that emphasize efficiency of movement. Emphasis is placed on breath, skeletal alignment, joint articulation, ease of muscular tension and the use of gravity and momentum to facilitate movement.

5. Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen: developer of Body-Mind Centering® and the founder and educational

director of the Body-Mind Centering School. For over 35 years she has been an innovator and

leader in developing an embodied and integrated approach to movement, touch and repatterning,

experiential anatomy and psychophysical processes. She is the author of the book, Sensing, Feeling

and Action.

6. Steve Paxton: see interview p. 87 and biography p. 192.

7. Daniel Nagrin (1917-2008): US modern dancer, choreographer, teacher and author.

8. Joseph Chaikin (1935 to 2003:) an American theatre director, playwright and pedagogue. In 1963

he founded The Open Theater, a theatre co-operative that progressed from a closed experimental

laboratory to a performance ensemble.

9. Judson Dance Theater: an informal group of dancers who performed at the Judson Memorial

Church, New York, between 1962 and 1964. The group of artists that formed Judson Dance

Theater are considered the founders of postmodern dance. The theatre grew out of a dance

composition class taught by Robert Dunn, a musician who had studied with John Cage. The

artists involved with Judson Dance Theater were avant-garde experimentalists who rejected the

confines of modern dance practice and theory.

10. Robert Dunn (1928-96): US musician and choreographer who led classes in dance composition,

contributing to the birth of the postmodern dance period in the early 1960s in New York City.

ll. Nancy Stark Smith: US dancer, author, organizer and founding participant in contact

improvisation. In 1975, she founded Contact Quarterly, an international journal of dance and

improvisation, which she continues to edit with Lisa Nelson.

12. Daniel Lepkoff: US dancer who participated in the first public showing of contact improvisation

in 1972 and was a central figure in its subsequent development. He is a founder of Movement

Research in New York City and teaches and performs world-wide.

13. Robert Ashley: a contemporary American composer, best known for his operas and other

theatrical works, many of which incorporate electronics and extended techniques.

14. Contact Quarterly (CQ): founded in 1975, CQ is a biennial journal of dance, improvisation,

performance and contemporary movement arts devoted to the dancer's voice. Published in the

United States it has a wide international readership.