The concept of Performing Underscore came as an idea to collectively make visible the 50th anniversary of contact improvisation and one of its founders Nancy Stark Smith, as well as anchor the practice of CI as a philosophical, political, dance historical and choreographic investigation with a Swedish audience.
Performing Underscore premiered in January 2023 at Dansstationen in Malmö to a sold out theater house.
Performing Underscore is a CI jam on stage. Practice as performance. An exhibition of a practice.
Ten improvisers of different generations from Sweden, Germany, France, Denmark and New York improvise through following the score of Nancy Stark Smith called the Underscore. Unrehearsed they negotiate relations of power, intimacy, collectivity and autonomy. Sharing weight to the point that they cannot survive without each other. A reciprocal dialogue of touch with objects, bodies and the environment.
Performing Underscore wants to look at contact improvisation through an artistic, philosophical and historical context, as well as questioning its current form and future.
The year 2022 marks 50 years since the choreographer Steve Paxton developed the dance form in the USA, in 1972. The dance form was a meeting between his interest in dance, choreography, Aikido, Zen Buddhism and philosophical questions. In the same year, the form was named contact improvisation when a group of 20 dancers held a five-day performance at John Weber gallery in New York where each performance a day was five hours long.
Contact Improvisation has mostly developed in the majority-white hegemonic contexts of
the globalized North. In its many forms and subcultures, Contact has also sought to provide
antidotes to this hegemony of movement, offering to fuck with the flow, interrogating consent,
reevaluating the gendered roles regarding touch and weight… 51 years after its inception, the
question remains alive: What are the lessons of CI for today?
Participants: Emelia Koberg, Emelie Bardon,
Elise Nuding, Marie Klawitter, Måsen
Erlandsson, Katarina Eriksson,
Tuva Hildebrand (SE), Emma Bigé (FR),
Paul Singh (NY), Dorte Bjerre Jensen (DK), and A. Livingstone (DE)
Sound: Tomas Björkdal
Light and tech: Meike Deppert
Concept & curator: Tuva Hildebrand
Support: Marie Klawitter, Elise Nuding with dancers
The performance is co-produced by Dans-
stationen and Plattform för Improvisation & Somatik, with supported by Kulturrådet
and Region Skåne.
Length: 90 min (15 min intermission)