Contact Improvisation

An act of love like so many books, Contact Improvisation: an Introduction to a Vitalizing Dance came out in print in 2006 after several years of writing. It took that long because I interviewed so many dancers around the country and abroad. I wrote the book because I loved the dance.

Still do. The dance remains among my greatest teachers.

Defining contact improvisation can be difficult. My elevator speech is to describe it as a combination of modern dance, aikido, gymnastics and yoga. The difficulty in Describing it especially difficult with someone with no dance experience.

Years ago when I taught writing in Malaysia, one of my students from a local indigenous tribe asked about what else I teach in the U.S.

“Contact Improvisation,” I said. It’s a type of modern dance.”

“What is modern dance,” he asked.

I tried to explain. “It has some similarities to jazz,” I said.

“What is jazz,” he asked.

“Improvisational music,” I replied.

“What is improvisation,” he asked.

Nearly thirty minutes passed in which we tossed words in search of common cultural understanding. He finally understood when I explained it as expressive dance.

Here’s a poetic excerpt from the prologue: “Let your body call you back into yourself, into your most deeply embodied self. Land, dive, soar. Find the crumbs that lead back home.”

If you’re an e-book reader wanting to know more about this improvised partnered dance, know that its electronic version is now available.

You can check it out here.


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