Head-to-head, [Left to right] Cathie Caraker and David Beadle. photo © Bill Arnold.
There are many ways of defining the dance form Contact Improvisation. Here are some:
—early definition by Steve Paxton and others, 1970s,
from CQ Vol. 5:1, Fall 1979
—from Ray Chung workshop announcement, London, 2009
Contact Improvisation (CI) was first presented as a series of performances conceived and directed by American choreographer Steve Paxton in June 1972 at the John Weber Gallery in New York City. Paxton invited about 17 students and colleagues to participate in the two-week project. These dancers included Tim Butler, Laura Chapman, Barbara Dilley, Leon Felder, Mary Fulkerson, Tom Hast, Daniel Lepkoff, Nita Little, Alice Lusterman, Mark Peterson, Curt Siddall, Emily Siege, Nancy Stark Smith, Nancy Topf, and David Woodberry. Several of them continue to practice the dance form today.
From its early days on the East and then West coasts of the United States, Contact Improvisation (CI) has spread to studios, schools, and art centers around the world. Thousands of people practice, perform, and teach Contact on all continents except Antarctica.
CI is enjoyed by movers of all kinds—professionally trained dancers, recreational movers, athletes, disabled dancers, old, young. Dancers apply their work with CI to choreography, to dance training, to working with children, seniors, disabled populations, therapy, visual art, music, education, environmental work, and social activism. Many do it just for pleasure and personal development.
Contact Improvisation's influence can be seen throughout modern and postmodern dance choreography, performance, and dance training worldwide, especially in relationship to partnering and use of weight.
Contact Improvisation continues to develop and spread to new cities, countries, types of dancers, and areas of application. The work embraces those new to the form as well as those who have been devoted to its study and practice for decades.
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