New Dance Initiative with Paul Matteson

Paul Matteson at SUNY Buffalo, January 2017. Photo by Rachel Keane

Year: 2016-2017
DanceForce Member: Elaine Gardner
Artists: Nancy Hughes, Paul Matteson, Jennifer Nugent
Community Partners: Lisa Taylor Academy of Ballet, Nichols School, Pick of the Crop Dance, University at Buffalo
Audience: 1,033
County: Erie

The ‘New Dance Initiative with Paul Matteson’ was a multi-event project. This unique project took place from January 2017 through May 2017 at several locations. It served a diverse geographical and artistic community. The project was created by Nancy Hughes and Paul Matteson with the specific intent of in depth learning and dance performance built through contact improvisation. Nancy Hughes worked closely with Paul Matteson to coordinate classes, lectures, open rehearsals and a culminating performance.

Paul’s first visit facilitated the UB Winter Intensive in collaboration with U.B. Dance Professor Melanie Aceto. The Intensive, held at UB North Campus’ Department of Theater and Dance, focused on technique and partnering possibilities within compositional frameworks. The classes were open to community dance professionals, advanced students, and UB dance students. This provided unique contact between the various dance communities who operate for the most part in isolation. Paul began to create a work for selected participants from the intensive. Additionally, he led a Rehearsal Intensive where local choreographers explored the process of creating choreography. Paul’s January visit culminated in an informal studio showing of his community dance work in process.

In the interim, his cast of eight dancers continued to work on the piece. Videotaped rehearsals were sent to Paul via the internet for comment and critique. The work evolved through the long distance process and became “That Time I Pinned You Down”. This work would be completed and refined for the culminating performance in May at the Flickinger Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. This work also served to bring UB Dance Department faculty and local professionals together in the creation, rehearsal and performance of this piece.

Paul’s second visit was intense and broad reaching. “Touch Negotiations” took place at Wasteland Studios in the Theater District in downtown Buffalo. Faculty were Paul Matteson, Nancy Hughes, and Melanie Aceto. The workshop focused on strategies for dance improvisation. The participants were also encouraged to attend the upcoming culminating project performance, “Note the Self”. In addition to Buffalo participants, attendees travelled from Rochester and Fredonia, further broadening the reach of the project. Paul participated in “Touch Negotiations” by leading a four hour class on Saturday, a three hour class on Sunday morning, and a three hour Contact Improvisation Jam on Sunday evening. Throughout this residency, Paul continued his work on repertoire for the “Note the Self” performance. He almost entirely reimagined the community dance, “That time I pinned you down”. He changed the sound score and included contributions from Buffalo dancers.

During the second visit to Buffalo, he taught classes at Nichols School, at the University of Buffalo and at Lisa Taylor’s Academy of Ballet for school age children and adults. He continued to rehearse and revise the group work and began to review his solo and his duet with Jennifer Nugent. Additionally, a lecture demonstration of “That time I pinned you down” and a segment of one of Paul’s solos was performed at Nichols School.