50 years of Contact Improvisation: Seeds, Roots, Branches
“Contact is something to do while you are having your experience.”
Who could ever imagine that a “one-off” series of performances conceived and directed by Steve Paxton in a gallery space in lower Manhattan during a hot July would spread to art spaces, studios, schools & theatres to generate a new dance form: Contact Improvisation, a social movement alongside radically new approaches to choreography & performance, dance training & education, redefining who could dance, giving birth to a newsletter that nurtured a network of practitioners, a journal that documented the development and evolution of Contact Improvisation and was home to what became a new field of Somatics, movement research & performance, new formats of teaching and learning, approaches to inclusive dance practice & performance, discourse and methodologies around the work, applications in applications in other art forms. People have even used the practice of Contact Improvisation to build community, work with trauma and address social issues.
Fifty years on, CI is danced all over the world and continues to reach new people and inspire. The people who practise CI continue to generate, innovate & improvise in response to current conditions in the dance world and society. This exhibition is a glimpse into the early years of the practice – shedding light on the seeds laid out by Steve Paxton and his collaborators – and maps out the spread & development of the work and the growth of new branches. What fruits will CI bring forth next?
We remember Contact Quarterly’s Co-founder, Nancy Stark Smith, who passed away in May 2020.
This exhibition is curated by Colleen Bartley.