The Art and Science of Partnering

I am fascinated by the subtle, ethical dynamics of physical interaction, which I refer to broadly as the practice of partnering. My work examines basic elements of interaction like touch, gaze, gesture, relative position, proximity, and so on, as well as underlying concepts like discretionary power, consent, care, and trust. I focus on how partners interact, how they negotiate conflict, what kind of goals they strive for, as well as what kind of methods of evaluation they employ from the inside (by partners themselves), as well as from the outside (by educators, therapists, coaches).

My work lives at the Partnering Lab, an applied research initiative that investigates the complexity of physical interaction across disciplines. The lab conducts formal and practice-based research on ethical physical interaction, and offers training for professionals seeking to enhance non-verbal communication skills. Part of the research includes the design and implementation of wearable technology to understand and destabilize implicit biases of physical interaction and non-verbal communication.

My approach to partnering was developed through dance training in ballroom, Argentine Tango, ballet, contact improvisation, and contemporary styles, as well as practice-based research residencies at Jacob's Pillow, Centre for Dance ResearchNYU Center for Ballet and the Arts (in collaboration with Argentinian Tango dancer, Valeria Solomonoff), Harvard ArtLab, and with professional dancers from companies including the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, The Cambrians, Chicago Hubbard Street, Boston Ballet, and The Royal Swedish Ballet. This work also emerges from controlled studies in academic spaces (Harvard, MIT, University of Illinois-Urbana, Coventry University), as well as clinical settings in hospitals and outpatient centers. 

My teaching method prioritizes ethical social practice. I have developed an approach called Somatic Enrichment, which offers tools for dialogue by fusing theory and physical practice. The training model is tailored for different audiences, from performing artists in dance and music, to medical practitioners, educators, and corporate professionals. Somatic Enrichment also serves as a professional development for those whose practice involves collaborative decision-making.

© 2021 Ilya Vidrin