The verb galumph was one of the “portmanteau” words coined by Lewis Carroll for his nonsense poem “Jabberwocky,” allegedly merging the first syllable of gallop with the second of triumph:
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
While the “beamish boy” who slays the Jabberwock would indeed have been galloping back triumphantly from his victory, the neologism has gone on to acquire additional layers of nuance. Galumphing is the sort of movement that one might make while wearing galoshes: clumsy, noisy, ungainly.
But in a 1984 book titled Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art, creativity theorist Stephen Nachmanovitch described galumphing in a more positive light, as “the immaculate rambunctiousness and seemingly inexhaustible play-energy apparent in puppies, kittens, children, baby baboons – and also in young communities and civilizations…the seemingly useless elaboration and ornamentation of activity…. We galumph when we hop instead of walk, when we take the scenic route instead of the efficient one, when we play a game whose rules demand a limitation of our powers, when we are interested in means rather than in ends.”
That is the philosophy of movement adopted by the Binghamton-based dance company Galumpha, which works in the artistic/comedic tradition of such groundbreaking artists as Pilobolus and Mummenschanz. Galumpha has performed all over the world, and the three-member troupe will be stopping in New Paltz to put on a show this Saturday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m. Taking place at the McKenna Theatre on the SUNY-New Paltz campus, the performance is a benefit for the beloved Unison Arts & Learning Center, which is in dire need of a fiscal transfusion.
Tickets cost $25 general admission; $20 for Unison members, seniors, New Paltz faculty and staff; and $10 for students and “any child taking up a seat.” To order, visit http://unisonarts.org. To find out more about the artists, visit http://galumpha.com.