chapter  Chapter 23
3 Pages

Contact improvisation

An introduction
WithCynthia Novak

Contact Improvisation Is Most frequently performed as a duet, in silence, with dancers supporting each others’ weight while in motion. Unlike wrestlers, who exert their strength to control a partner, contact improvisers use momentum to move in concert with a partner’s weight, rolling, suspending, lurching together. The participants in contact improvisation have characterized the dance as an “art-sport,” a dance form which simultaneously provides a communal movement experience for the participants and an example of movement behavior for the audience. The people creating contact improvisation during the ’70s were for the most part young, college-educated, white, middle-class Americans living in transient, communal settings. Many of the early participants, audience members, and critics felt that the movement structure of contact improvisation literally embodied the social ideologies of the early ’70s which rejected traditional gender roles and social hierarchies. Contact improvisation thus provides an example of the possibilities and problems of maintaining cultural ideas and practices in the face of social change.