DC Contact Improv
The place for info about Washington, DC metro area Contact Improv jams and other community resources. Check here for up-to-date jam status, info about joining the dc-ci mailing list, other local events, and more.
This is the place for info about the Washington, DC contact improv jam and related activities. Check the current Status section, just below, to confirm the schedule for upcoming jams, and subscribe to the DC-CI mailing list (here's how) to be notified about any developments via email.
The Sunday jam has been happening reliably every week in 2014. We post any upcoming exceptions to the schedule in this note:
We're on our regular schedule.
The jam happens between 2:00 and 5:00 pm, at St. James and St. Monica Church parish hall. Someone almost always opens promptly at 2:00, and people stream in, to typically total between 15 to 20 dancers. See the next section, below, for details including directions.
The first Sunday jam of each month is set aside for a guided improv structure, usually an Underscore. It's a good opportunity to get acquainted with the jam. However, anyone interested in practicing CI, or just getting a glimpse of it in practice, are welcome to all sessions.
The Sunday Jam
Respect for one another's
|When||Sunday afternoons, 2:00-5:00 pm|
|Address||222 8th St. NE, Washington, DC 20002
- here's with directions from Union Station metro
|Price||$5 to $10 donation - Supports church's community outreach program|
Ken tends the jam and maintains this online stuff. Use the contact link on the
|All participating must agree to our liability release/waiver
- we'll have copies to sign there, but printing one to bring with you helps.
CI is based on mutual cooperation rather than control, and depends on
- See What People Do At A Jam for an introduction.
- CI is based on mutual cooperation rather than control, and depends on Respecting Boundaries to work well.
- See About Contact Improvisation for general info about CI.
Immediately crucial status info, like pending schedule or venue changes, is noted in the Current Status section, above.
Subscribe to the dc-ci mailing list (subscription instructions, below) to be notified about jam status changes and local CI-related and progressive dance activities.
The Sunday jam is an open event, welcoming everyone. It has been happening almost every weekend since around 1985, and typically includes people across a broad range of experience, from zero to a lot. It's not a class, but usually includes people happy to explore at whatever level, discuss questions, and, if asked, provide guidance. If you're willing to explore in order to find your way, the jam is a great opportunity to practice and enjoy contact improvisation.
As part of the insurance coverage, every Sunday jam participant must sign a liability release/waiver. We have some ready to sign at the Jam. If you haven't signed it already, and can print one and bring it with you, that helps with jam maintenance.
On the first Sunday of most months we do an improv structure, called the Underscore, to better orchestrate the jam. Originally adopted to help newcomers find their way in, we've discovered that it does that and much more. It's a great lead-in, helping your exploration process be as easy and stress-free as you want. (See below for more details about the Underscore.)
See also DC Jam History and .
The DC Jam's (Nearly) Monthly Underscore
The DC jam practices an ensemble improv recipe, called the Underscore, during the jam on the first Sunday of each month. We started the practice (December, 2003) as an experiment. The aim was to make the jam more accessible to everyone by providing some Jam-oriented structure. It stuck, big time. It does provide useful newcomer orientation. In addition, many - new and experienced - find that it helps to foster a great jam - with benefits carrying over to our non-Underscore jam days.
The Underscore's mutuality is fostered by people making the journey together. It seems that the more that those participating are on time and filled in, the better it works, so please do what you can to be prompt. But come and enjoy, in any case.
The Underscore is an improv recipe developed by Nancy Stark Smith, and evolving in practice lead by her and many others. It includes a carefully described trajectory and focus on the diversity of connections. The structure cultivates connecting with oneself and with others, neither to the exclusion of the other. Having a room full of people tuned into it promotes an ease of involvement and discovery in moving with others. It's a great opportunity for exploring contact improv and group movement improv from a very body-based approach, whether or not you're experienced with jamming.
Our Underscores take place on the first Sunday of each month, with (usually) Ken providing an introductory description between 2:00 and 2:30, and then leading the path into the open score. We usually end the open score at 4:30, followed by the closing circle.
Ken rants about the underscore in Our CI Jam And The Underscore.
The DC-CI Mailing List
The dc-ci mailing list is a private list for current and former DC jammers. It's the central avenue for notifications about contact improv in the DC metropolitan area. Subscribe to receive emails about venue changes and special events. Conversation is held to jam and local dance topics, and it's a good way to be filled in on progressive dance and related arts in the area.
The list is self-service, with a subscription form in the middle of. Membership is by moderator approval, but nobody is turned away if they're considerate and genuinely interested in CI.
For discussion about progressive DC dance not focused on Contact Improv, see the DanceDC yahoo group.
DC Contact Improv Web Log (Blog)
Because it actively notifies subscribers, the is best for notices about things that are going to happen. The blog is better for notes about things that have happened.
Other Local Resources
Local event listings of related stuff:
- lists activist / progressive arts and opportunities for the dc/metro area, including with links to this page and and other progressive dance activities.
- Free in DC keeps a running listing of upcoming events of many sorts.
- DCConsciousDance.com frequently hosts five rhythms and other ecstatic dance events.
- Glen Echo Park is a sort of local Mecca for folk and social dance, including Contra, Ballroom, Salsa, Swing, and more! See the Glen Echo Park Social Dances page for leads.
- See for leads on CI events, including jams, around the world.
- Anyone wanting to keep informed about the status of the DC jam, please see the dc-ci mailing list section, above. Follow the subscription instructions in order to keep track of venue changes, workshops, performances, and other local ci-related events.
- Jammers are our main, best resource. Contact improv is a process of perpetual discovery, yet it is not just doing whatever. You can learn it in each dance, if you attend to what's going on, and you can also learn from asking questions. Feel free to ask for help, if you're feeling curious or lost.
- What do people do at jams? Here's a stab at answering that question that might be helpful: What People Do At A Jam
- The freedom in CI to explore and expand boundaries depends on careful respect for them, not disregard. Please see Respecting Boundaries for essential guidelines that support everyone's opportunity to enjoy the practice.
- (There are no ongoing local CI classes currently happening - we will include info here when they emerge.)
- For discussion about progressive local dance, in general, join the DanceDC Yahoo discussion group.
- has an entry for the dc jams, as well as lots of other jams, and other ci-related resources.
This page and its subtopics have been supporting the jam since September 13, 2006
Online resources describing CI, eg.
I love what can happen when things click in a dance, and am fascinated with the process of getting there. I write about my perspective in About Contact Improvisation. I describe CI's distinctive challenges and rewards in Contact Improv as a Way of Moving.
The one item of specialized equipment used by many contact improvisers is "chinese knee pads", to cushion the knees while dancing. The preferred ones arefrom the contact quarterly.
(I'm a rare exception that prefers to go without knee pads, except perhaps when doing long-term intensives, or when I have a banged knee - and then I prefer the stretchable neoprene knee supports available from neighborhood drug stores, like CVS "futuro" open-patella neoprene knee supports.)
Any other suggestions for this list? Use the "contact" link at the top of the page, or the comment form below, to notify me about it!