For her series entitled Coupling, New York-based artist Emily Clayton photographed herself literally crawling inside her paintings, an act she calls "physical intervention." After seeing the series, Banning Bouldin and the dancers of New Dialect embarked on a collaboration with Clayton, in which they took the parameters that informed Clayton's studio research—disruption, invasion, and modes of dependance—and implemented them into their own choreographic research of physical partnerships.
With the help of Clayton, the collective recorded a series of site-specific films in which the dancers were paired off and asked to engage forcibly with their partners. This process quickly brought to the surface the dancers’ instincts to defend themselves, calling to mind one’s inherent tendency to either fight or flee from threatening or uncomfortable situations. By acknowledging these emotionally driven physical responses through observation, dialogue, and deeper movement research, each artist was enabled to move beyond their instinctual limitations, and in turn, foster trust and eventually greater risk within their pairings.
This collaborative research evolved into a 20-minute contemporary dance work, in which each participant is actively engaged in the process of embracing their vulnerability as they respond to the Fight/Flight impulse.