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Contact Improv and Ensemble Improv

by Ken Manheimer last modified Apr 26, 2013 02:55 PM
Contact Improvisation is a collaborative movement practice that I have practiced for many years, and I increasingly teach and perform it. For me, it has not been just a remedy for the static of every-day life. It is an exceptional opportunity to explore and enjoy the essence of cooperation, as art and lesson, and what I glean from my practice helps inform my technical community engagement and coordination efforts, as well.

I've practiced Contact Improv throughout my adult life, and have branched into teaching, performing, and other movement-based collaborative improvisation forms, particularly ensemble improv. Initially driven by the quest for engaging recreation, I find that I increasingly appreciate the opportunities these practices offer to explore and understand the dynamics of cooperation and play, and relish sharing these opportunities with others.

The primary venue for Contact Improvisation is in CI jams - peer practice, without leaders or followers. Instruction still has a place, as ways that Contact Improv is different from other collaborative dance can make finding your way in the practice challenging.  (In some substantial ways, learning to navigate well in the face of disorientation is part of the practice. But understanding that, itself, is a kind of orientation.)

I find that understanding this challenge, which I describe in Contact Improv As a Way of Moving, can be quite helpful in finding your orientation in CI, and helpful in navigating the dynamics of collaboration in many other situations, as well. It can be useful not only in improvisation, but also in work and other collaboration contexts where more of material consequence is at stake, hence there is less latitude to freely experiment.

For these reasons, and others, I deeply appreciate these practices, and love to share them.

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