Touch&Talk – Malaika Sarco-Thomas

The T&P Spectrum for this workshop is: , ,

Improvisation is a word for something which can’t keep a name; if it does stick around long enough to acquire a name, it has begun to move toward fixity.  Improvisation tends in that direction (Paxton 1987: 19).

If improvisation tends toward fixity, it is the job of improvisers to unravel its becomings.  Recognizing that contact improvisation is a name that has become familiar territory for many, the Touch & Play festival offers a new angle from which to explore the permutations and explosions of a touch-based movement practice which has arguably both resisted and succumbed to definition.  This research project investigates the openings created in our thinking about contact and improvisation through the frame of the Touch & Play experiment, and asks participants to articulate how their work relates to wider frames of ‘the world’ in social, natural and mental spheres.

touch + talk is a series of curated moving conversations around practice, experimentation and thoughts about how our touching and playing impacts on the world around us.  Why do we do what we do?  As Phillip Gehmacher, curator of the walk + talk performance series featuring choreographers asks, ‘How can you make sense of your own physicality and how can you speak of it?’ (Gehmacher 2009).  And, in touch + talk, how can you do this in tactile conversation with others confronting the same challenge?

touch + talk will ideally take place once each day throughout the experiment; each session will focus on one question and will be a maximum of twenty minutes.

Two or three responders will address a question together by moving and talking in a studio or stage space with an audience present.  The list of questions will be made available to the participants of the Touch & Play experiment and individuals can nominate themselves to address a particular question and sign up to perform touch + talk on a particular day.

Spillout from these encounters can take the form of further discussion, labs or performances.

Questions on the palette include those posed to dance makers by Chrysa Parkinson, Anna Halprin, and the 2007 project by Good Move, AT LARGE with Reasonable Doubt.

  • Why do you dance/move/touch/play?
  • What questions underlie your practice?
  • What do you want others to receive from your work?
  • How is your work provocative?
  • What challenges you most in your practice?
  • How does your practice relate to health – that of yourself and others?
  • How does your work relate to the environment you live in?
  • How do you refine or develop your senses? (Parkinson 2010).
  • What are the by-products of your work?  What by-products do you think are garbage, or toxic, or wasted? (Parkinson 2010)
  • How do you use and challenge your desires?
  • How does your practice impact upon the nonhuman?
  • Is there anything you would like to see change in your community of practitioners?

If you don’t understand the question, answer what you think it means.

Read Malaika Sarco-Thomas‘ biography