TALK / SNDO 1982-2006 online What I would dance with is a sort of a witness. There is a conscious mind involved, but it's not doing active duty. Training Perception Steve Paxton / interviewed by Robert Steijn
Robert Steijn interviews Steve Paxton at the School for Dance Development in 1999. Paxton took part in the improvisation event organized by Magpie and Katie Duck at the Frascati Theatre where Steijn was the producer. In the interview Steijn explores the boundaries of what improvisation means to Paxton. They discuss questions around perception of the moving body, by the dancer and by the audience.
RS / I will start with a short quote: '"improvisation comes from !improvisio' and that's about 'what is not to be foreseen'." Is that a correct description of improvisation for you? SP / It's one of them.
RS / Is it an important aspect of improvisation, to deal with what is not to be foreseen? SP / I wonder about the role desire plays and if desire doesn't at least foresee some goal. It's hard to imagine moving without desire, an urge to go.
RS / But is that an urge to be in an area you can't foresee? SP / I think this must be one of the deepest urges of mankind, don't you think? Take for example Vasco da Gama. RS / What is your quest in exploring improvisation?
SP / Well, what is interesting is this idea of goallessness, aimlessness, or not knowing. That seems to be part of it but as 2 though there is a quest not to self-create the future. And if you do have a goal or even just a dream or a desire or something which is hazy in your mind but still something that feels like you need to reach, get up and pretend you are creating - you are putting energy into the future. Now, that future is probably just right here. It's not the future, it's like the future. But it moves you. It's like looking at small atomic particles. You have created energy, like your own carrot that you're going to follow. So now there is a carrot in the picture. In terms of being goalless, aimless, get rid of your goal:
your carrot. I don't find it possible to quite get rid of it. I do find it possible to change it. RS / To change the carrot? SP / Yes, this fantasy carrot, this goal, this aim, this desire to do something. I find it possible to put it right here, so that I turn to it, to change it, to put it far away, to bring it close, to put it inside me, you know, to work within, whatever. So I don't find a place where nothing is foreseen. I find a place where what is foreseen is the question. And do you want it, or do you want to change it, is the process.