Embrace the awkwardness!
"If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it." -- Isadora Duncan
"Contact Improvisation is an evolving system of movement initiated in 1972 by American choreographer Steve Paxton. The improvised dance form is based on the communication between two moving bodies that are in physical contact and their combined relationship to the physical laws that govern their motion—gravity, momentum, inertia."
"Contact improvisations are spontaneous physical dialogues that range from stillness to highly energetic exchanges."
Contact Improvisation (13:24) Sasha Bezrodnova and Katja Mustonen at a Focused Jam, Moscow, April 2013
Why is there rarely music at contact improv dance jams? A video answer by Martin Keogh
Contact Improvisation (CI) is a framework for an improvised duet dance. Since it is essentially a dance of investigation of weight, touch, and communication, it adheres to no single definition or pedagogical certification program. All practitioners ultimately participate in the defining, disseminating, and development of the form through their own practice and discovery. - Contact Quarterly Magazine
Contact Aliveness: Strengthen your body, open your mind, and fine tune your ability to listen and respond to each moment. Explore aliveness through fun, simple activities that involve moving in and out of physical contact. Contact improvisation is a dance with gravity, momentum, and everything else that is happening in the moment, including the physical and energetic contact the dance-partners share. It is a whole-body practice in the art of non-verbal collaboration and co-creation. Discover ease, flow and possibility in the dance of relationship. Designed for all physical abilities - with or without dance experience. Every body is welcome. -- Tanya Williams
Embrace the Awkward: "At its origins contact improvisation combined moments of incredible beauty and flow with moments of incredible awkwardness, clumsiness and disorientation. As contact has evolved and experienced dancers have developed incredible capacities for creating flow there has been a tendency to try to eliminate as many of the awkward moments as possible. This often leads to running through the gamut of known physical techniques and making the same choices over and over, again and again. The freedom contact improvisation offers doesn't come without the courage to accept what is already taking place in our bodies and in the space, to use all our known and unknown resources, to embrace the ever-present making-a-fool quality, and willingly turn even the most awkward circumstances and risky situations into brilliant creative moments. The unknown becomes a friend, absurdity is worn well. In this workshop we seek to reinvigorate the form through embracing all aspects of the dancing. We will challenge ourselves to safely embrace the unknown even when it seems clumsy or strange." – Andrew Harwood and Chris Aiken (promotion for June workshop in France, March 2014)
What is Contact Improvisation? (9:17) "Sometimes words are unnecessary." "A chance to meet." "Being clear about what I want." "A learning process." "To be in connection with people." "We hardly touch each other in society." "It's very good." "A lovely way to transform my restlessness." "You can be who you are." "I'm free." "Sometime I fly; sometimes I lie." "It's a bit like meditation." "I fell very alive, refreshed." "A quality of life that mostly children have."
A "Contact Improvisation Dance Jam" ("Contact Jam") is an open invitation to a time and place for practicing improvising movement in contact with others, oneself, and the environment.
"Writing definitions of contact improv [CI] is an artform of its own; but, not one I [Jim Davis] practice. This definition is here only for the sake of those who are surfing the Web and stumbled onto this page. Those of you already doing CI may as well go back:"
"I've never seen a definition of Contact that I really liked. For some people, it's a post-modern folk dance. For others, it's a process for finding new choreographic ideas. Some people perform it, others do it as a practise or discipline. Some people look at it and see gymnastics, or wrestling, or swing dance. What are the "mere facts" about it? It's usually done as a duet (but sometimes solo or in larger groups), it's usually in silence; and it's improvised. Dancers are as likely to be on the floor as standing, and sometimes they're flying on someone else's shoulders." -- Jim Davis http://earthdance.net/contactdefinition.htm
To Be in Contact Improvisation (2:51) Contact Improvisation in the Sea Garden, Varna, Bulgaria
"A typical CI session begins with a moment of being present with oneself, during which the participant engages with the floor and with his or her body. I stretch, I yawn, I pay attention to my breath, to my mass, to my feelings, to the environment around me. Then, somewhere nearby, the presence of another takes form, which I perceive first as a vibration, then as light pressure somewhere on my body. This is the point of contact, where pressure fluctuates, changes, and impacts the duet. I let go of balance and I feel myself fall into fluidity, arcing over my partner to meet the ground. The liberty I feel comes from responsibility. By acting slowly, a quiet strength allows me to face any surprises or emergencies. The dance has begun."
"Contact improvisation is an athletic yet sensual movement form involving two or more partners who are playing with physical contact while rolling, sliding, jumping, catching and carrying each other. Both dancers are improvising with the swing of gravity and centrifugal force, thus creating spontaneous, unique movement dialogues."
"Contact improvisation is a dance with gravity, momentum, and everything else that is happening in the moment, including the physical and energetic contact the dance-partners share. It is a whole-body study in the subtle art of non-verbal collaboration and co-creation. Often a meditative practice, improvisation is done without music, to allow space to tune into what is happening and the moment-to-moment impulses of the body." -- Tanya Williams
"Contact Improvisation is a moving massage. It is a dance that fine tunes your senses and wakes up your ability to listen and respond to what is happening in the moment. If you could do Aikido, surf, wrestle and dance at the same time, you would have an idea of what Contact Improvisation feels like. What makes Contact different from other dance is that partners are often moving in and out of physical contact while rolling, spiraling, springing and falling. They find ways to "enjoy the ride" and improvise while mutually supporting and following each others movements. The dancing is unpredictable and inspired by the physical and energetic contact the partners share." -- Ernie Adams http://earthdance.net/contactdefinition.htm
Benoit and Amy (4:46) Boston 20th anniversary jam, May 2011
A selection of some of the best contact improv videos on the web - at ContactImprovOnscreen.org Curated by Sanford Lewis
"This form of dance is usually practiced without music, during jams
where each participant is free to move as he or she wishes.
Musicians are welcome, as long as they remain in touch with the
dancers and do not try to impose a mood on the gathering. The
heart of contact improv is listening and silence is its kingdom.
The concepts of sharing, cooperation, and equality are at the core of the discipline. Those who come to the jam can make extraordinary discoveries there. Risk, confidence, abandon and gentleness are found in abundance." An invitation to let go in an oasis of peace.
Contact Improvisation is a partner dance form with safe touch as the foundation for connecting with others in a playful intimate way. Through the physical principles of touch, momentum, and weight sharing, this movement practice explores the skills of falling, rolling, counterbalance, lifting using minimal effort, centering and breathing techniques, and responsiveness to our partners and surroundings. Together we create a safe space to explore these skills and let our curiosity and joy lead the dance. * There is a sweet surrendering that happens when our bodies stay faithful to what is happening now, and now... and NOW! In my classes participants learn to recognize and differentiate the subtle impulses in our choices and our partner's choices. We begin to decipher the cues that we give and receive which tell us when to lead or follow, where to touch, how to lift, when to slow down, and when to be still. Learn to stay in integrity with each choice, never forcing, never rushing. When Body, Mind, and Spirit are united in their instinctive wisdom we find our-selves at home in every moment expressing our true nature. -- www.contactimprov.com
Discover and practice the science and playground that is Contact Improvisation. Strengthen your body, open your mind and awaken your instincts. Explore sensory and physical experiments of shared touch, weight, gravity and momentum and expand into three-dimensional space, spontaneous composition, trust and risk. Engage in scores and open dancing and experience serious play - matching wits and methods, sharing common ground and sudden miracles - by surrendering to and shaping the dance in the moment. Be ready for joint creations with formal and open structures and games, scores and scenarios ranging from the whimsical to poetic, cooperative to aggressive, simple to complex. (Knee pads are recommended.) - Collective (gulp), Ottawa
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