Contact Improvisation

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Hallie Aldrich and Eryn Rosenthal, by David Papas (

Contact Improvisation

(full semester laboratory description)

This fun, laboratory-style class will investigate the fundamentals of Contact Improvisation (CI), a dance form that evolved in the early 70s as an experiment in democracy. CI involves a heightened sense of listening, sensory perception, and attuning of physical reflexes, as well as a careful attention to weight, momentum, orientation to gravity and physical connection or contact with one’s partner. Informed by developments in modern dance, improvisation, the martial arts, as well as political currents of the time, it can become highly acrobatic once a mastery of basic concepts has been achieved. CI is like a jungle gym but with humans instead of plastic or metal equipment; through its focus on the center of gravity, experiential anatomy, and principles of physics such as counterbalance, plumb lines, trajectories and friction, students will build a strong sense of balance, core, and an embodied relationship between center and limbs. Over the course of the semester, students will also gain agility in movement invention and creative, game-based spatial problem solving.

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Bradley Teal Ellis and Eryn Rosenthal, by Natalia López Muñoz


Work in this class will also foster a grounded sense of weight and presence in solo, duet and group composition, useful for performance majors in theater and dance. Through an embodied investigation of roles and habits in self-other relationships, the course also carries strong thematic connections for students in gender and cultural studies; architecture and visual arts; politics, anthropology, physics, psychology and journalism.


© Eryn Rosenthal, 2014-15. Please cite with reference to this page.