By encouraging presence and awareness of our own being with others through touch,
Contact Improvisation is a transformative and potentially revolutionary dance form.
Our collaborative documentary project focuses on the experiences of five people
at the biggest contact improvisation dance festival in the world
to reveal contemporary meanings of the form and to
open up new themes and questions for research.
Our five protagonists, through their journeys and reflections on the festival offer five ethnographic ways to explore the contemporary practice and influence of contact improvisation. Our documentary was edited in collaboration and in consultation with the wider contact improvisation community. Nevertheless, it is just one of many ways we could have edited the footage. Some of our favourite clips could not be included to ensure the documentary had a narrative integrity and emotional depth.
Our film was structured and informed by key principles in CI. Most particularly we used Nancy Stark Smith’s ‘Underscore‘ as inspiration to inform the asking our five protagonists for seeds for the week of the festival. We then harvested the results of their seeds during a sharing at the end of the festival. What they shared strongly informed what footage we included in the documentary.
This website will provide many more ways into the footage we filmed, the people we met and the ideas that emerged from filming, sharing and getting feedback from our documentary. Your curiosity and interest will guide what we put up. It is also an opportunity for those in the documentary and the wider community to open up and research questions about the value of contact improvisation and the use of video in presenting and communicating the form. We are fascinated by the prospects of grounding our exploration into contact improvisation, not in the abstract, but through focus on the people who practice and share the form.
We hope our “Five Ways In” will open up many more ways for contact improvisation to be researched.
So the first step of exploration is to watch the documentary. You will be able do this:
(1) At one of our public screenings or in film festivals (see screenings).
(2) With some of our supporters of the film who have a copy of the film and who we encourage to screen with friends. We feel that rather like dancing CI, the documentary should be watched in company. The documentary is fundamentally a vehicle for discussion and inspiration and the greatest insights can be obtained by sharing and learning others reception of the documentary.
(3) By purchasing a copy of the film and organising a screening of your own.
(4) By feeding back your insights in relation to experiencing the film (see ‘Feedback‘ section on the front page)
(5) By contributing to and expanding the research themes. This can also be done in the comments section in the ‘Feedback‘ section.
Before or after you have seen the film you will be able to explore our soon to be completed page ‘In-sights‘ which offers further thematic ways to learn more about our project. You will also be able to explore other footage from the festival in our Vimeo channel.
Our ethnographic research themes have been formulated in an open ended way. They were emergent out of the process of our exploration of creating the documentary. They do not necessarily report the result of research but rather open up questions raised by the process of making the film. Many of our questions are ethnographic in the sense that they are raised by the experiences of being in the contact dance community. They follow much research in CI, in that they emerge in the first instance from physical practice and only after to literature.
As we learn more from you from the reception of the documentary we aim to find the resonances to literature in anthropology, dance, somatic studies and other areas. We are very happy to receive literature recommendations also.