Lisa Nelson and Steve Paxton

Performance Series at Dia:Chelsea

<p>Photo of Lisa Nelson and Steve Paxton, Night Stand, 2004.<br>
Performance at L'animal a l'esquena, Celrà, Spain, 2008. Photo © Jordi Bover.</p>

Photo of Lisa Nelson and Steve Paxton, Night Stand, 2004.
Performance at L'animal a l'esquena, Celrà, Spain, 2008. Photo © Jordi Bover.


In October 2013, Night Stand (2004), created and performed by postmodern choreographers and longtime collaborators, Lisa Nelson and Steve Paxton, will have its United States premiere in Chelsea. Night Stand follows the twenty-four year run of their duet PA RT (1978), continuing their development of the theater of improvisational dance.

In fall 2014, a program of Paxton’s work will be presented at Dia:Beacon.



Carol Mullins has been designing lighting for the stage since the 1970s and has served as resident lighting designer for the Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery since 1982. She has designed lighting for dance works by choreographers including Douglas Dunn, Elizabeth Streb, Wendy Perron, and John Kelly. In addition to Night Stand, she designed lighting for Lisa Nelson and Steve Paxton’s PA RT in 1983. Mullins has received three New York Dance and Performance Awards, or Bessies, and an Obie Award in 2003 for Painted Snake in a Painted Chair by the Talking Band.

Lisa Nelson was born in New York City in 1949. She began her training in traditional modern dance and ballet as a child at the Juilliard School in New York City and then Bennington College in Vermont. Throughout the 1970s she investigated diverse approaches to dance improvisation, including performing with Daniel Nagrin's Workgroup, and began her research into the sense of vision and the performance of movement through the medium of video. Her intensive practice in dance and video led her to develop the Tuning Score, a rigorous model for real-time editing and communication for ensemble and solo work. Nelson performs, teaches, and creates dances internationally, and maintains long-term collaborations with other artists, including Image Lab, Daniel Lepkoff, Steve Paxton, Scott Smith, and Cathy Weis.

Nelson received a New York Dance and Performance Award, or Bessie, in 1987, and an Alpert Award in the Arts in 2002. She coedits Contact Quarterly, a journal focused on dance and improvisation founded in 1975, and directs Videoda, a project that archives, produces, and distributes videotapes of improvisational dance. In 2001, the French-language magazine Nouvelles de Danse published an issue about her work, titled Vu du Corps: Lisa Nelson, Mouvement et Perception. She lives in Vermont.

Steve Paxton was born in Arizona in 1939. He began his movement studies in gymnastics and then trained in ballet and modern dance. In summer 1958, Paxton attended the American Dance Festival at Connecticut College, where he trained with choreographers Merce Cunningham and José Limón. Soon after, he moved to New York City. He was a member of the José Limón Company in 1959 and a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1961 to 1964. He was a founding member of Judson Dance Theater (1962–64) and Grand Union (1970–76), two movements that indelibly redefined dance for the following decades. In the late 1960s, Paxton created work from pedestrian, everyday movement, including such preeminent early dances as Flat (1964), Satisfyin Lover (1967), and State (1968). In the 1970s, Paxton was involved with Grand Union, a dance theater collective that included Becky Arnold, Trisha Brown, Douglas Dunn, David Gordon, Nancy Lewis, Barbara Lloyd (Dilley), Yvonne Rainer, and Lincoln Scott. It was during his time with Grand Union that he first formulated Contact Improvisation, which has remained an influential dance form. He then developed the movement practice Material for the Spine from Contact Improvisation in 1986. Paxton’s interest in improvisation has continued to guide his choreographic practice over the past twenty-five years.

During his fifty-year career, Paxton has received two New York Dance and Performance Awards, or Bessies, in 1987 and 1999, and has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Rockefeller Foundation; the Contemporary Performance Arts Foundation; Change, Inc.; and Experiments in Art and Technology. He received the Vermont Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1994 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1995. He has also been a contributing editor to Contact Quarterly dance journal. In 2008, Paxton published the four-hour DVD Material for the Spine, which examines technical movement outward from the core of the body. He lives in Vermont.

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