Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Contact Improvisation (CI) is a dance technique in which points of physical contact provide the starting point for movement improvisation and exploration. Contact Improvisation is a form of dance improvisation.
Contact Improvisation was developed by a group of dance artists Grand Union led by Steve Paxton as a method for creating improvised dance. Today Contact Improvisation is practiced as a dance form in its own right and is ideologically different from Paxtons early practice.
The first performance work recognised as Contact Improvisation is Steve Paxton 's Magnesium (1972), and was created for students at Oberlin College. Paxton followed this with the first Contact Improvisation performance evening at the John Weber Gallery New York City.
Practice and Theory
Contact Improvisation can be practiced as concert or social dance form. In the social setting Contact Improvisation meetings are called jams in which participants can participate or watch as they want. These dance jams are similar to the practice of Jazz musicians bringing themselves and using the time to explore the limits of the form.
Contact Improvisation is often practiced in duet form but can also be performed in groups or as a solo using physical objects (floor, walls, chair, etc...) as the point of contact. As many teachers say in introductory classes, the floor is your first partner.
Contact Improvisation techniques can include weight transfer, counter balance, rolling, falling, suspension, and lifting. CI practitioners may also draw on:
- body mind centering
- Skinner Release technique
- Alexander Technique
- Feldenkrais method
- Laban Movement Analysis
- martial arts, especially Aikido
- Newton's laws of motion
- cognitive science
Due to the improvised nature of CI and depending on the choreographic structure used, a CI performance may contain little physical contact.
- If you're dancing physics, you're dancing contact. if you're dancing chemistry, you're doing something else. - Paxton, S. (1987)
- When an apple fell on his head, Newton was inspired to describe the three laws of motion, that carry his name. ... In his attempt to be objective, Newton overlooked the question of how it feels to be the apple. When we put our bodymass in motion, we raise above the law of gravity and go towards the swinging, circulating attraction of the centrifugal force. Dancers ride upon, and play with these forces. - Paxton, S. (1987)
- The earth is much bigger than you are so you'd better learn to co-ordinate with it. - Stark Smith, N. (1987)
- Contact Improvisation or CI is "a contemporary game" says Steve Paxton. CI started in the US as a means to explore the physical forces imposed on the body by gravity, by the physics of momentum, falling and lifting. CI is a complex but very open form with infinite possibilities and is a dance form that is made by the dancer in the moment of dancing. - Touchdown Dance (2002)
- some movement improvisation artists and theorists, (eg: Steve Paxton , Bonnie Bainbridge-Cohen , Simone Forti ) as specialists of the phenomenology and aesthetics of human movement have reached theoretical and practical insights about human interaction and embodiment that are closely related to the ones that are found recently in the fields of artificial intelligence (embodied robotics), cognitive science (embodied cognition) and new biology (self-organization and emergence). - Barrios Solano, M. (2004)
- Barrios Solano, M. (2004) Posthuman Performance: Dancing within Cognitive Systems. http://dancelab1.dance.ohio-state.edu/~barrios/cord.html
- Paxton, S. (1997) in Fall After Newton. Videoda / Contact Collaborations, Inc. (video)
- Stark Smith, N. (1987) in Fall After Newton. Videoda / Contact Collaborations, Inc. (video)
- Touchdown Dance (2002) Contact Improvisation http://www.touchdowndance.co.uk/graphic/contact_improvisation.html
- Steve Paxton
- Nancy Stark Smith
- Lisa Nelson
- Grand Union
- dance improvisation
- Judson Dance Theater
- Choreographic technique
- List of dance style categories
- Novack, C, J. (1990) Sharing the Dance: Contact Improvisation and American Culture. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0299124444
- Tufnell, M. and Vaughan, D. (1999) Body Space Image : Notes Toward Improvision and Performance. Princeton Book Co. ISBN 1852730412
- Contact Quarterly - CI journal
- proximity - CI journal
- contactimprov.net - Global Directory of Contact Improv Groups and Classes
- History of Contact Improv - The Village Voice
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