BIPOC Contact Improvisation Jams and Long Table

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Do you identify as a Black, Indigenous and/or any persons of color (BIPOC)? Do you practice Contact Improvisation or want to learn about it? Do you have any skills or exploratory scores related to Contact that you would like to share? 

Contact, y'know it's that rolly, touchy stuff that white people do? Nah?! You don't? Well, hold on! We're going do it our way.

Come to the BIPOC Contact Improvisation Jams and the BIPOC Long Table community conversation. We are asking for only people who identify as BIPOC to attend these events to facilitate healing and an increased verbal and contact-based understanding of each others' realities. Black and Indigenous intersections of race are named not to exclude any people of color but to center their experience as people who have endured the most oppression at the hands of the state. Click here for more information.

What is Contact Improvisation?

“Contact Improvisation is a movement improvisation that is explored with an other being. According to one of its first practitioners, Nancy Stark Smith, it « resembles other familiar duet forms, such as the embrace, wrestling, surfing, martial arts, and the jitterbug, encompassing a wide range of movement from stillness to highly athletic.” 1

The founder Steve Paxton defines CI as, “The exigencies of the form dictate a mode of movement which is relaxed, constantly aware and prepared, and onflowing. As a basic focus, the dancers remain in physical touch, mutually supportive and innovative, meditating upon the physical laws relating to their masses: gravity, momentum, inertia, and friction. They do not strive to achieve results, but rather, to meet the constantly changing physical reality with appropriate placement and energy.”2

What is Contact Improvisation in relation to Whiteness?

by Andrew Suseno

I believe the practice of CI was meant for all people of all races, ages, and abilities.

In practice Contact Improvisation(CI) Jams are often white, heteronormative, and able-bodied centric with a majority of practitioners being liberal white university students/alums and teachers. And while this population often means well, they have historically universalized participant experiences toward whiteness, micro-aggressed, and negated alternate cultural and socio-emotional experience. Many BIPOC across the country have been turned off from further exploration of CI at Jams, or at all, not because they are not curious about CI, but because of the insidious toxicity, cultural impositions, and isolation experienced in jams.

In seeking a Jam and discussion apart from white people we are not seeking to hate on ‘them,’ but instead are seeking to heal ourselves and collectively come to CI on our own terms. It is really fun!

POC students at the end of a POC Affinity Parcon Resilience workshop at Oberlin this spring.

POC students at the end of a POC Affinity Parcon Resilience workshop at Oberlin this spring.

What do you need to bring?

1) Send me an email so I can put you on the list serve! no experience is necessary! adsuseno@gmail.com

2) Clothes you feel comfortable rolling around in. Knee pads if you have sensitive knees.

What can I expect?

You will be asked to introduce yourself and consent to a community agreement; It morphs with whomever is in the collective that night: generally it consists of safety and self-care, honoring history and ancestors and ways to foster community.

You may roll around on your own and with each other, sound, dance to music, massage, draw, write, laugh…maybe cry and whatever you may need to do connect in to your wholeness and to find restoration.

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LONG TABLE DISCUSSION @ GIBNEY (same location as above)

In addition to BIPOC Jams, Eva Yaa Asantewaa via the Gibney Dance Studio is supporting our community with a Long Table Discussion on December 4, 2019 from 7-9pm.

This conversation time, just like the Jams, is open to all BIPOC.

Core Participants will share our experiences with the community and share in conversation with you!

We are: Andrew Suseno, Ishmael Houston Jones, Mayfield Brooks and Julianne Carino.

Long Table conversations adopt performance artist Lois Weaver’s non-hierarchical Long Table format, encouraging informal conversation around topics of concern to the community.

We look forward to moving with you in more ways than one!

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1 Nancy Stark Smith et David Koteen (2013), Caught Falling. The Confluence of Contact Improvisation, Nancy Stark Smith, and Other Moving Ideas, Contact Editions, p. xii

2Steve Paxton, "A Definition", Contact Quarterly, Winter 1979, p. 26.