What is a contact improvisation dance festival?

You might be wondering what on earth contact improvisation (or contact improv or CI) is all about? And what happens at a contact improv festival?

Wikipedia has a good history of contact improvisation as a dance form though what contact improv is today depends on who you ask. Many would struggle to put it into words and would invite you to simply join a contact jam. It’s only by trying to dance that you’ll understand what it’s all about.

The basics of contact improv are that two people dance together, even if only for a few minutes, and they maintain most of the time some point of contact between their bodies. It might only be their fingertips touching or they might be rolling acrobatically over each other’s shoulders. It might be slow and intimate, it might be whirling and fast. Both dancers can lead and follow and they trust their weight to one another. From these basic principles the journey begins.

You can find contact improvisation jams all over the world and just drop in to dance. Bring some comfortable clothing and get ready to share a physical journey into the unknown with a bunch of strangers.

You can learn to dance contact improvisation just by doing but you can go deeper into the practice by attending courses from CI teachers, or just go to a contact improv festival and go to the workshops there. There are people who travel all around from one contact improvisation festival to the next and there’s a real sense of community at these events. Even just dropping in for a jam in a new city can be a great way to meet people. You communicate so much with someone when dancing contact improv without words. It can be quite surreal to then start a conversation once the jam is over.

Most contact improv festivals will feature other body disciplines like yoga, acro-yoga, pilates, meditation etc and there will probably be plenty of live music to accompany the dances (though none is required for CI).

Going to a CI festival is a great chance to get to know yourself and others better. And it’s so much fun – just check it out!

And here you can read in more depth about what contact improv is all about.