a wayward/activist archive of contact improvisation

Elements (38)







Oo Ga La Dance

video, photograph, poster, postcard, text

Ishmael Houston-Jones, Fred Holland

Cathy Weis


School of Sensitivity


Dieter Heitkamp

Lisa Schmidt, Brigitte Streseman




Steve Paxton

Steve Christiansen


Sex and Gravity

article, photo, score

Jess Curtis

Stephanie Maher, Jess Curtis


Our Own AIDS Time


Keith Hennessy, Ishmael Houston-Jones

Claudia LaRocco


Unsafe Unsuited

article, photograph

Keith Hennessy, Patrick Scully, Ishmael Houston-Jones

Deborah Jewitt



photograph, article, video

Ishmael Houston-Jones

Chris Cochrane, Dennis Cooper, Alvaro Gonzalez Dupuy, Johnnie Cruise Mercer, Michael Parmelee, Jeremy Pheiffer, Kensaku Shinohara, Michael Watkiss, Hentyle Yapp


improvising while black

practice, article, performance

mayfield brooks

Karen Nelson




Andrew Suseno, Dean James Beckwith, Cecilia Fontanesi, Funda Gul, Richard Inkyu Kim, Javaka Steptoe

Nhu Nguyen, Farai Williams, Kimberly Tate, Gabriel Gomez, Ryuta Iwashita, Kylee C. Smith, Kris Seto, Kara Nepomuceno




Andrew Suseno

Ishmael Houston-Jones, Richard Kim, mayfield brooks


Questions to Nancy Stark Smith by Keith Hennessy


Keith Hennessy

Nancy Stark Smith, Ronja Ver, Jen Pollins


Questionning Contact Improvisation


Keith Hennessy

Scott Wells, Megan Low, Shira Yaziv, Kaitlin Guerin, Robbie Sweeney


Male Breast Feeding

practice, photograph

Antonija Livingstone

Stephen Thomson, Mich Cotta, Peter Pleyer, Nadia Lauro


Anqua Danse avec les roues

image, website, practice

Isabelle Brunaud

Sylvie Tiratay, Arnaud Grelier, Aga Miley, Emmanuel Sala, Daniel Franchini, Azucena Suncais, Alain Faure, Daniel Motta, Serge Pauchon, Annie Quentrec, Barbara Mangano, Ioana Violet, Marie-Laure Kaminski, Sylvie Fleurot


Contact Improvisation Consent Culture


Kathleen Rhea

Sarah Gottlieb


Dancing Queer


Emma Bigé

Antonija Livingstone, Diana Thiellen, Paul Singh


Queer CI Lab & Jam


Paul Singh, Kristin Horrigan



Queer Contact Improvisation Laboratory for Men


Peter Pleyer

Stretch Festival, Village Berlin


The Ponderosa Trilogy

video, webpage

Peter Pleyer




paper, drawings

Nancy Stark Smith

Ann Cooper Albright


contact Gonzo

video, article

Yuya Tsukahara

Masaru Kakio, Keigo Mikajiri, Takuya Matsumi, NAZE


Training in the Contact Zone

chapter, audio

Donna J. Haraway

Joe Dumit, Asaf Bachrach, Emma Bigé, Defne Erdur


The Uses of the Erotic

audio, chapter

Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde


Consent and Contact Improvisation: A Dialogue

zoom, video

Karen Nelson

Rosemary Carroll, Stephanie Auberville, Charlie Halpern-Hamu, Sasha Lasdon, Kathleen Rea, Sarah Schaffer


On being neuro-a-typical in the contact improvisation community

zoom, video

Rosemary Caroll

Kathleen Rea


Respect des limites / Coexistence des genres


Brooks Yardley

anonymous women


Stinson Beach

gay commune

Nancy Stark Smith



The Feet



Susan Manning




Ishmael Houston-Jones, Fred Holland

Pamela Moore, Defne Erdur, Léo G. Gentil


Olympics of Contact

performance announcement

Felix Ruckert

The Meeting Point, Mireia Aragones Carol, Malin Astner, Susanne Martin, Maya Lipsker, Litsa Kiousi, Fenia Kotsopolou, Alessio Castellaci, Maia Urquiola, Thomas Brian, David Brandstetter, Jorgos Fokianos, Felix Ruckert, Heiko Senst, David Bloom, Erikk


On CI Intersections

cq article, article

Ann Cooper Albright, Keith Hennessy, Geneviève Cron, Daniela Schwartz, Kent Alexander, Zach Arfa, Taja Will, Kathleen Rea, mayfield brooks

Asaf Bachrach, Colleen Bartley, Richard Kim, Ming-Shen Ku, Sasha Lasdon, Yeong Wen Lee, Angelique Niekerk, Steve Paxton, Heike Pourian


Tribute to Oo Ga La Dance

video, photos, texte

Pauline Balayila, Rosalie Sarda, Ina Rose .O. Atoyebi-Alapini

Ishmaël Houston-Jones, Fred Holland


Les déséquilibristes

Video, photos, texte

Ina Rose Rosalie Sarda

Victor Mizrahi




Radical Faeries

Radical Faeries


I am touched by absence

audio recording

mayfield brooks

Karen Nelson, Anya Cloud, Charlie Morrissey, Alejandra Garavito Aguilar


Touchdown Dance

article, photographs

Steve Paxton, Ann Kilcoyne

Kate Mount, Tony Rahim, Eleanor Tew, Bill McKinlay, Karen Nelson, Gerry Overington, Caroline Waters, Gill Adams, Mala Sikka, Richard Spicer, John Cutts, Lee Parkinson, Helen Simmons, Sharon Higginson, Graham Tranter


Caring Banquise

performance, video, text

Mathilde Monfreux, Claude Boillet, Virginie Thomas, Clémence Diény, Anne-Gaëlle Thiriot, Jérémy Damian

Raphaëlle Dupire, Trecy Afonso, Léa Kieffer


CI Nezha Rabat

Transcription d'un entretien

Nezha Rhondali, Léo love

Mathilde Monfreux, Anne-Gaëlle Thiriot, Liselotte Singer, Myriam Rabah-Konaté, Virginie Thomas, Laurian Houbey, Trécy Afonso, Ishmaël Houston-Jones, Emma Bigé, Loïc Touzé, Somatika, Tassarout, Cie Irtijal, La Compagnie des Corps Parlants, Earthdance


A W-Archive of Contact Improvisation

A W-Archive of Contact Improvisation (WACI) is a practice-based archival project that investigates the counter-hegemonic potentials and wayward histories of Contact Improvisation, a movement form that emerged in the 1970s in the US and is now practiced in many places around the globe.

Initiated in the times of pandemic turmoil and social unrest that shook the globe in 2020, the project aims at gathering Contact Improvisation practitioners around the investigation of the activist and social justice legacies of the form, asking: How has Contact Improvisation attempted to contribute to the political struggles of its times? How are they at play in the micropolitics of Contact Improvisation communities? And conversely: What are the minor stories that Contact Improvisation doesn’t tell about itself? Who are its own invisibilized folks? What are its own seemingly wayward undercurrents of practice, and could we learn to celebrate them?
A W-Archive of Contact Improvisation is inspired by many key moments and endeavors of Contact Improvisation history: from Ishmael Houston-Jones and Fred Holland's Wrong Contact Manifesto, to Keith Hennessy's Questionning Contact Improvisation, to Karen Nelson's Contact Improvisation interrogates its history and currency, to Kathleen Rea's Contact Improvisation Consent Culture, to the collective work around Parcon Resilience and many other forms of articulating CI with social justice movements. Taking inspiration from these fugitive/resistant practices who set at to be unruly and question the seemingly “right” and obvious ways of practicing being a Contact Improviser, we ask: Could we track the wyrd & oblique forms of Contact that have sought to undermine the “obvious”? Could we trace the imaginary and real legacies of all those who have willingly queered, wyrded or hijacked Contact Improvisation?
SF as anArchive
A W-Archive of Contact Improvisation offers SF and anArchive as practices of wyrding the archive. Acknowledging fugitive ancestors is a delicate balancing act : how can we celebrate them and at the same time not force them into a form of visibility that would only re-stage the very categorization they sought to elude? How can we make resistant practices visible while simultaneously refusing to be complicit with the capitalist imperatives of identification and transparency? The W-Archive mixes Science Facts and Speculative Fictions, historical archives and anachronistic anArchives, in order to make visible the present of the archivists next to the past of the archived, and to blur the identifiable.
W is for
W is for Wild, Wyrd, Wrong, Wayward, Wacky, Wonky.
W is for interrogating whiteness, and the West, and other forms of racialized geographies.
W is for (Love) Warriors.
W is for Women and otherly queer-gendered folks.
W is an inverted M, an antidote to the Major, a study in the minor.
W is for Who is here and Who is not, Who has access and Who has not, Who can read these lines and Who cannot.
W is for We, and not knowing who We are, and dwelling in the unknowability & potential of our dissensus.
W is for Water and its hydrofeminist lessons (for example: the refusal of solids as the only kind of reality, & the embrace of fluid, and viscous forms of being).
W is for the Whales that are extinct right now, and for our ceremonies of our Mourning and Loving them.
W is a letter that doesn't exist in Turkish.
W is for Memories upside down, a practice of SF as archive: an archive of the future, an archive of the present, an archive of the past as they could have happened.
W is for the insistant Will to honor our ancestors inspite of a culture of forgetfulness.
A short history of WACI
WACI was constituted as part of the Round Robin Project, an international adventure initiated in 2008 to serve the dance form Contact Improvisation (CI) and all the people worldwide who are engaged in that work—dance practitioners, performers, researchers, teachers, and any other interested people. This project aimed at giving tools to Contact Improvisers worldwide to celebrate and make public their work without depending (too much) on Big Tech companies (such as Fb or Ggle...). This led to the creation of the CI Global Calendar under the supervision of Eckhard Müller (and many more) on the one hand, and on the other, the beginning of a project for a Global AnArchive of Contact Improvisation, curated by Nancy Stark Smith, Dieter Heitkamp, Emma Bigé and Defne Erdur.
After the passing of Nancy Stark Smith and the full-digitization of CQ's archive, Dieter, Emma and Defne were left orphans, &also wandering: what kind of archive would two queerdos from Germany and France and one woman from Turkey who now lives in Europe make if they were to retrace their lineages in the practice of Contact Improvisation? if they were to look at ancestors working with social justice, queer & feminist frames & consent practices? At a moment of global turmoil, in the midst of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movements, it became urgent to celebrate the runaway and fugitive tendencies that have been a motor in Contact Improvisation's development. And so instead of starting Global, the anArchive decided to start in the minor, and celebrate the part of Contact Improvisation histories that have presented themselves as insurgent and that have offered tools for countering hegemonies of all sorts. We hope this first stone in the Archive of the Wyrd Contacts will open new ways for sustaining all sorts of mischiefs.
Wanna become a W-Archivist?
The W-Archive needs you to submit Archives, from real or fictional events, relating to your histories or dreams of past, present and future events in the worlds of Contact Improvisation and its activisms, whether you authored, witnessed, heard about, or dreamed these events
please fill out this framaform
[[ Note : the W-Archive is a hub, not a host ; if you create an Archive, you should be able to refer to another place online where the information is stored; only exceptionnally might we be able to upload content on our servers, as they are very small ]]
Please use and circulate this W-Archive
Share it with your students and colleagues and friends, invite them to contribute.
[[ Note : The question of access is quite unsolved for us, we do not know how these materials and fugitive histories might reach those who might feel alienated by the form // we simply have some hope that putting them together might help give some historical depths to the diversity of involvements in the form since its inception]]
Dancing the W-Archive
Our base is practice. Our desire is to dance together and figure these stories in the flesh. The W-Archive thus started as a gathering of movers, in the dance studios of Larret (Périgord, France) with a mixed group of dancers living in Europe: Defne Erdur, Emma Bigé, Ina.O Atoyebi, Pauline Balayila, Léo G. Gentil, Ton Bogotaj & Jana Burianova. Paul Singh and Karen Nelson joined us online for interviews. And Dieter Heitkamp, Daniela Schwarz, Sarah Konner, Colleen Bartley, Kristin Horrigan, Rosemary Caroll and Abril Lukac offered us some precious feedbacks from afar. Immense thanks to all of them.
If you want to be informed of our next events, online or in person, please write to danses [-] tordues @ riseup [dot] net


Wanna become a W-Archivist?
The W-Archive needs you to submit Archives, from real or fictional events, relating to your histories or dreams of past, present and future events in the worlds of Contact Improvisation and its activisms, whether you authored, witnessed, heard about, or dreamed these events
please fill out this framaform
[[ Note : the W-Archive is a hub, not a host ; if you create an Archive, you should be able to refer to another place online where the information is stored; only exceptionnally might we be able to upload content on our servers, as they are very small ]]





Type of document


People involved







Leo Gentil, during our first WACI Dancing/Gathering/Labing (in April 2021, in Larret) shared this Archive with me by just showing me the tittle and the photograph. Recognising Ishmael Houston-Jones in the image I started reflecting on the image. I found myself trying to be "academic" in my reflections. I felt tired and bored of my own thinking. I let few sentences lay in front of me. From these sentences this poem emerged. I never claimed to be a poet. I hated claiming tittles all along, although I ended up claiming some at times. And yet, it feels good to claim to be an AnArchivist (due to its slippery nature) and feel "legitimate" to write a poem and publish it. Defne Erdur .


Babble: First impressions of the white man is collaboration between Ishmael Houston-Jones and Fred Holland, with sound collages by Ishmael Houston-Jones and Mark Russell and raw loops by Mark Allen Larsen, visuals by Fred Holland and slides by Suzanne McClellen and Pamela Moore, performers; Steve Staso, Holland, IHJ, Tavoria Rae Kellam, Charles Richardson, Adrienne Altenhaus, Brian Moran and others.

Tobi Tobias writes of the show in the New York Magazine (April 4 1983): "Equal parts dance, theater, and polemic, it suggests that in the confrontation of different races or cultures, each one of us is a self-appointed anthropologist, a benighted investigator. In its opening segment, a white man in a loose overcoat, hat pulled down, paces on the periphery of a pool of light that illuminates two more drab overcoats hanging from the flies. Pictures that might come from an old National Geographic—of tribe members and explorers—flash onto the back wall as a pair of taped voices recite words frontward and backward, the reversals making occasional, accidental, sense.
The observer continues his watch, half hidden in gloom, as Holland and Houston-Jones perform, their voices on tape, clinically plotting their actions. Their movement escalates from simple positioning to the tender grappling of contact improvisation to violence. At first, the violence seems to come from the outside—from drugs, from random gunshots; then the men don the empty overcoats and, in a stream of blood-red light, try to kill each other. An early comment on the tape, which at first was the casual exchange of two avant-garde performance artists, takes on a lethal irony: "Do you think enough has happened yet?" "What has happened yet?""