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Resources for Contact Improvisation

What is Contact Improvisation?

Start with this webpage from Contact Collaborations: http://www.contactquarterly.com/contact-improvisation/about/

Check out the Youtube video "What is Contact Improvisation" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzb9Hnjnd5g).  You can find lots of other Contact Improvisation videos on YouTube, the quality is mixed, sort through to find the gems!

To get the big picture, read Harvest: One History of Contact Improvisation written by Nancy Stark Smith, who was there in the beginning.

You also may enjoy Elizabeth Zimmer's great article from Dance Magazine.

Some helpful Contact Improvisation writings:

Karl Frost has a nice list of Fundamentals of Contact Improvisation.

Various writings on addressing the puzzle of personal boundaries and the #metoo movement in Contact Improvisation:

The West Coast Contact Improvisation Jam in 2017 had a nice statement for starting the conversation: wcciJAM statement from 2017 

The Dancer's group in Berkely published Contact Improvisers Consider #metoo on their website.

Martin Keogh in 2003 wrote his classic essay 101 Ways to Say No to Contact Improvisation: Boundaries and Trust  , (I haven't read the updated version he put in his new book yet)

 In April 2018 Sarah Gottlieb wrote an exceptional description about the difficulties of saying "No" in her article Myths to Break Down: Moving Toward Ethical Communication and Ethical Sexuality in CI 

THE best place to find good things related to Contact Improvisation:

Contact Collaborations, Inc. is run by some of the people who were there at the birth and infancy of contact improvisation. If there is something out there that contact improvisers find helpful, it will likely be in their webpages, which are divided into four entities (anything in quotes below is taken directly from their webpages, other comments are my opinions):

Contact Quartery (often referred to as "CQ") is the "biannual journal of dance, improvisation, performance, and contemporary movement arts." It started out as a newsletter for contact improvisers to communicate with each other, and remains the main venue for this. It has wonderful articles and pictures, and in the back there are listings for contact improvisers around the world. You can order your own subscription of CQ from a menu on this webpage.  You can also find materials on contact improvisation and a variety of subjects that many contact improvisers find interesting. 

Some favorites:

1. CQ/CI 25th Anniversary Sourcebook "Xeroxed articles, essays, drawings, photos, and quotes directly concerning Contact Improvisation, reprinted from Contact Quarterly, 1975 through 1992." This is by far my favorite resource. A rich collection of diverse ideas and views of contact improvisation - thought provoking, knowledgeable, and inspiring regardless of your skill level.

2. Sharing the Dance: Contact Improvisation and American Culture by Cynthia Novack "An insightful look at the development of Contact Improvisation within its web of historical, social, and cultural contexts, written by an anthropologist and dancer." This book is often chosen as a text for university/college contact improvisation courses.

3. Material for the Spine (DVD) An amazing DVD created by Steve Paxton, the choreographer who started Contact Improvisation - it includes a number of valuable explorations for expanding one's experience and practice of contact improvisation. 
"This interactive DVD-ROM immerses us in Paxton's world, to experience the logic and invention at the core of Material for the Spine, a technique evolved from his observation of the spine in the practice of Contact Improvisation. Original audiovisual essays, motion capture sequences, and extracts from lectures, classes, and performances give an overview, the details of the technique, and the exercises and forms that constitute it."

4. Taken by Surprise: A Dance Improvisation Reader. Ann Cooper Albright, David Gere (eds) "21 essays by prominent practitioners and scholars reflecting the development of improvisation as a compositional and performance mode. Including considerations of contact improvisation, recent innovations in tap dancing, and improvisation in everyday life."

5. Sensing, Feeling, and Action: The Experiential Anatomy of Body-Mind Centering® by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen "Movement educator Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen describes her innovative approach to movement analysis and reeducation through her collected articles and interviews from Contact Quarterly, 1980-1992." Many contact improvisers find that the practice of Body-Mind Centering® creates new possibilities in their dancing.

VIDEODA: "archives, distributes, and produces videotapes of Contact Improvisation and other improvised dance and new dance forms." There is some great footage here. Especially of note: Fall After Newton "A sweeping look at 11 years of practice of Contact Improvisation by Nancy Stark Smith and initiator, Steve Paxton."