Choreographic Scores Exchange

An exchange between dance artist Penny Chivas and me, initiated as a way of continuing to develop a sustainable movement practice.

Score #2 – Dance – but always with at least one hand in contact with a hard surface.

I used the wall, my rocking chair, another arm. What is a hard surface? Is it one that gives me full, concrete support when I lean in? Is it one that feeds my movement through its repetitive, rocking, rhythmic not fixed movement? Is it one that yields and supports me, whilst at the same time communicates information about my relationship to it?

When in motion and asking myself these questions, it became clear to me that the notion of a ‘hard’ surface has strong connotations with support.

Support /səˈpɔːt/


  1. a thing that bears the weight of something or keeps it upright.
  2. material assistance.

Weight, bearing weight, supporting weight, allowing for weight to shift and bounce off it. Each ‘hard surface’ offered a different, distinct resistance to my weight, which, in turn, offered a shift of perspective around my understanding of my weight in relationship to it. Especially when it came to using another arm as a hard surface, questions around absorption and transformation of energy emerged.

Still from research and development of my new work ‘Hand in Hand’ or ‘Let’s Hold Hands the Old Way’

What if support meant an exchange of weight rather than bearing? What if support meant a mutual exchange consisting of fluctuations of who is bearing and who is yielding? What if support was being together in a conversation, a constant listening and adjusting, and what if support was more concerned with the physical rather than the material assistance?

All of these thoughts reminded me of Steve Paxton’s words around improvisational strategies and gravity. Paxton (2018) discusses the ability of some dancers to work/improvise guided by their internal sensations developing a ‘complex relationship with what one is doing, and the relative strengths of one’s postures relative to gravity, negotiated on the spot’ (Paxton, 2018: 23). In exploring contact with a hard surface, I felt my interpretation of this relationship constantly being negotiated on the spot, informed by my body, the other ‘body’ and our relationship to gravity.

Read about Penny’s experiences of the Score Exchange here.

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