Contact Improvisation

Hallie Aldrich and Eryn Rosenthal, by Dan Pappas (

Hallie Aldrich and Eryn Rosenthal, by David Papas (

Contact Improvisation




(Also see


Movement Improvisation and

Liberation Pedagogies.)

This fun, laboratory-style class investigates 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.


Bradley Teal Ellis and Eryn Rosenthal, by Natalia López Muñoz

Bradley Teal Ellis and Eryn Rosenthal in 60% OFF ALL CUSTOM FRAMING. Photo 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.


Participants in Buoyant Wait workshop with Eryn Rosenthal, Freiburg International Contact Festival. Photo by Patrick Beelaert.


Teacher Bio:

Eryn Rosenthal is an active member of international Contact Improvisation (CI) research and teacher exchange networks, teaching, performing and facilitating at the Freiburg Festival (Germany), the Market Theatre Lab (South Africa), ECITE (Hungary), Teatro Montealegre (Chile), Gravity Tank (US), and elsewhere since 2003. She is also one of the co-founders of the NYC Underscore. Her classes investigate joy and play, building physical listening skills, curiosity, agility and relational awareness through the body. In addition to her work in CI, Eryn is a choreographer, performer and social practice artist, collaborating with artists and activists in South Africa, Spain, US, and most recently in Chile. Her ongoing series, The Doors Project, investigates transitions–political, social, intimate–through site-based performance in different doorways around the world. Eryn teaches CI, improvisation and interdisciplinary performance at Yale University, in Dance and Democracy: Movement Improvisation and Liberation Pedagogies, and Making Performance on Socio-Political Questions. She is delighted to be back teaching in New York.

© Eryn Rosenthal, 2014-23. Please cite with link to this page.