Presence is disturbing. Its disturbance distinguishes performers from each other and moments from other moments. We perform this disturbance when we show up, show off, or become indistinguishable. The latter mode amplifies the ecological nature of presence because to become indistinguishable is extraordinarily difficult not only as a practice but as a political move. Engaged in the world as an ecological phenomenon, what is our response-ability? Critical to this investigation is an understanding that in its relational action, attention, which is tactile, is implicit in presence. As Manning notes in Politics of Touch, “Touch, alongside politics, invents by drawing the other into relation, thereby qualitatively altering the limits of the emerging touched-touching bodies.” Thus, an articulate presence is critical in an investigation of relationalities between humans and with the more-than-human we also touch. Examining the relationship between attention and presence, and between presence and the ethics of relational ecologies, we come to realize the need for new knowledge and new freedoms.
Key theorists: Barad, Bekoff, Gruen, Hunter, Manning, Massey, Massumi, Nöe, Spinoza, Stern.
Keywords: Rewilding, relationality, entanglement, attention/awareness, communion, ecology, vitality, identity, cultural fit.
Nita Little has been delving into the significance of improvisational dance actions the entirety of her professional career, which began with the emergence and development of Contact Improvisation (CI). Originally a modern dancer, she trained with José Limón and first generation Graham and Cunningham dancers as well as Judson pioneers including Judith Dunn, her mentor in ensemble improvisation. Her work with Steve Paxton was research generative of CI and she toured with him, developed teaching methodologies, performance practices, and conceptual understanding of the form. A practitioner/theorist, choreographer, and teacher, Little received her PhD in Performance Studies in 2014. This was an effort made because of the significance of the field of dance improvisation to the expansion of human knowledge through physical research into its creative and embodied potentials. Little explores physical/mental states in the physics of motion, relational and creative action, and the articulation of presence through ensemble improvisation and Contact Improvisation. She tours on a regular basis making work, performing, and teaching technical, relational, and creative skills to dance companies and at festivals and schools worldwide. Her writing investigates ecological actions of attention and the creative potentials present in entangled relations. In partnership with a diversity of theorists from fields including cognitive therapy, anthropology, psychology, biology, philosophy, and performance studies, she is developing a Seattle based research institute for the study of somatic communication with a global network of ensemble dance research laboratories.