What is CI?
Contact improvisation is a form of dance and movement based on interaction with one or more partners. The contact between dancers is not similar to contact sports (martial arts) but it's more like a general tool to join dancers and dances into one single dance.
Contact improvisation (CI) is based on improvisation, so usually it does not have any strict given rhythm or choreography although some practiced movement patterns are often present in some form. In this sense, CI can be more approachable than some other more strictly defined forms of dance. One can practice CI basically without any experience in any dance. Everyone can do it according to their physical and other limitations – including the blind. What is required is a little bit of openmindedness, particularly in communicating with touch. Classical dances (waltz, tango, ...) are an excellent way to begin.
A fundamental element of CI is "sending" and "receiving" through touch. By practicing CI the body learns to use touch as a communicating tool. The interaction in CI is based tactile sense (touch) which is often neglected in our normal day-to-day interaction. However, activating tactile sense can have very strong positive influence on both body and mind.
In guided teaching you can learn some common and safe movement patterns that can be used while dancing or in some applied form. Practicing CI helps you get to know your body better. The best way to learn CI is by practicing it by following your own and your partners senses and limitations. Watching can also sometimes be very useful.
In addition to guided teaching, CI is done in so-called jams, where people dance in pairs or in some other forms. The jams can be either free form jams or they can have some fixed structure, for instance silent jams, where speaking, singing, etc. is not allowed (see also Saturday practice score below). In free jams there are some rules to be followed. See more below [jam code].
Jam codeSome instructions and guidelines, mainly concerning general safety, are listed in the following:
Contact Improvisation Practice Score - structure for Saturday sessionsA supportive structure in which to practice and research contact improvisation which is followed in Zodiak's Saturday sessions (by Malcolm Manning):
CI can sometime look very acrobatic and wild and sometimes it is so. However, since CI is done with other persons, one should keep the dance at a level where you feel comfortable and safe. Wilder and more acrobatic things should be postponed until you are ready for them. The following three points about safety are good to remember:
You should always respect your own dance – if your partner is dancing in a very wild way and you don't feel comfortable with it, you have every right (and duty) to dance in a way that you feel comfortable with – or end the dance.