What is Contact Improvisation?
● E-Lesson by Nina Dibb
Contact improvisation (CI) is a dance
form/technique in which points of physical contact
provide the starting point for exploration through
Contact Improvisation is a form of dance
improvisation and is one of the best-known and
most characteristic forms of postmodern dance.
“The dance is the mother of all languages”.
Robin George Collingwood
British philosopher and historian.
It's been around since
before the birth of the
earliest human civilizations
● It has many faces (cultures, traditions)
● It could be an ecstatic trance (e .g., rituals)
● It is an aesthetic endeavor
● The way of expressing yourself
● It could be an extreme sport
But can we have them all in one?
Contact Improvisation is a dance form, originated
by American choreographer
Steve Paxton in 1972,
based on the communication between two or more
moving bodies that are in physical contact and
their combined relationship to the physical laws
that govern their motion
—gravity, momentum, inertia.
Steve's recipe: Aikido + Modern Dance = Contact Improvisation
are spontaneous physical dialogues that
range from stillness to highly energetic
The body, in order to open to these sensations,
must learn to release excess muscular tension
and abandon a certain quality of willfulness to
experience the natural flow of movement.
Practice includes rolling, falling, being upside
down, following a physical point of contact,
supporting and giving weight to a partner.
“Contact Improvisation is an open-ended exploration of the
kinaesthetic possibilities of bodies moving through contact.
Sometimes wild and athletic, sometimes quiet and meditative, it is a
form open to all bodies and enquiring minds.”
Ray Chung , London, 2009
Contact Improvisation (CI) is a framework for an improvised
Since it is essentially a dance of investigation of weight, touch,
and communication, it adheres to no single definition or
pedagogical certification program.
All practitioners ultimately participate in the defining,
disseminating, and development of the form through their own
practice and discovery.
Physics of Contact Improvisation:
● Yield to gravity
● Use momentum
● Be fluid as water and light as air
● Grounded like a rock
● Be sparkling like champagne
If you're dancing physics, you're dancing contact.
— Steve Paxton
● After completing this lesson, you require to watch video at your own time:
What is contact improvisation? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzb9Hnjnd5g
Anyone can practice
● It's a performing art
● It's social dance
● It's practiced at JAMs
- with and without music
- in round-robins
- at small workshops
- at really big festivals
● It's a dance therapy (for older people, kids, injured and
For more information and available workshops/events:
Northern Ireland company practicing CI:
Echo Echo Dance Theatre