Bristol Contact Improvisation

Welcome to the Bristol Contact Improvisation website. This site is for the Contact Improvisation community in Bristol and the South West. The aim is to introduce new people to contact improvisation and be a resource to dedicated dancers by sharing what is happening in Bristol and the wider community of the South West of the UK.

If you are running any contact improvisation classes or related events that you would like listed here, please email us.

What is Contact Improvisation?

Contact improvisation was created by an American dancer and choreographer named Steve Paxton in 1972.  He was an athlete, a gymnast, a martial artist, and a modern dancer. The first score was designed for an all male performance called Magnesium. It started with the small dance. Then the men fell through the space, spilling onto the matt, rolling, getting up, with little soft collisions, slides, falls. It ended with the small dance.

This one score then developed from Steve Paxton’s enquiry with others such as Nancy Stark Smith, Nita Little, Daniel Lepkoff, etc. It has evolved from this point in many ways, investigating the body, movement, how humans meet and move together.

Contact Improvisation is based on the physical exploration of how the body moves through its own intelligence and how two or more bodies in contact with each other can move together, a dance that fine tunes your senses and wakes up your ability to listen and respond to what is happening in the moment. Sometimes wild and athletic, sometimes quiet and meditative, it is a form open to all bodies and enquiring minds.

Contact Improvisation is an honoring of every moment. There is a sweet surrendering that happens when our bodies stay faithful to what is happening now, and now… and NOW! One learns to recognize and differentiate subtle impulses in our movement choices and our partner’s choices. We begin to decipher the cues that we give and receive which tell us when to lead or follow, when to go up, when to go down, where to touch, how to lift, when to slow down, and when to be still. In this form one learns to stay in integrity with each choice, never forcing, never rushing. When Body, Mind, and Spirit are united in their instinctive wisdom one finds ones-self at home in every moment expressing ones true nature.

Mark Moti Zemelman