Kuva: Ronja Verkasalo

Kontakti-Improvisaatio Finland.net


A brief history of CI

Contact Improvisation (CI) was developed in the United States by a group experimenting with movement and dance. Officially, CI is thought to have been created by one member of that group, Steven Paxton, in 1972. Paxton also used to be a member of the more famous Merce Cunningham group, the Grand Union improvisation group, as well as the Judson collective in New York.

The development of CI was made possible by the social and cultural transformations at the time. The modern was being replaced by post-modern, and this also left a mark on the way of thinking about dance; the traditional vocabulary of movement based on the steps of Western dance, "along with its underlying demand for aesthetics and choreography, were being challenged in the 1960s and 1970s. Concepts such as new dance, experimental dance and post-modern dance all reflect this turn, of which CI was but one expression.

What was unique about CI was that it brought together such an incredible amount of different orientations, coming up with a whole new form of dance. The different influences included, for example, aikido, which Paxton was learning while developing CI. Apart from the Japanese martial art technique, CI was also influenced by the development of release and body consciousness methods and physical theater and social dances. Merce Cunningham’s thinking, such as his concept of the body and the related idea that any movement can be regarded as dance was also brought to bear on CI. Finally, one can see the impact of feminist ideas in that the roles and movements in CI are not differentiated according to gender.

CI was the product of a collective endeavour and it also stayed that way: that is, as an on-going process open to re-development. This has to do with Paxton’s views; instead of new hierarchies, he wanted to develop alternative ways to organise dance and also provide alternatives to existing social structures. The social dimension is highlighted by the fact that CI dancers frequently refer to themselves as a “community”.

At present, CI has spread all over the world and CI dancers meet each other at various courses and festivals. In Finland, CI was introduced during the 1980s.

History of CI in Finland

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