a wayward/activist archive of contact improvisation

Elements (37)







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


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 ]]



improvising while black


Type of document


People involved






mayfield brooks


IMPROVISING WHILE BLACK is an interdisciplinary dance project and dance improvisation experiment. The seed for IWB sprouted out of brooks’s personal experience of being racially profiled when driving while black/DWB in San Francisco, California.

mayfield brooks is a cultural worker, activist, dancer, and performance artist who completed an MFA thesis titled, “Improvising While Black” at the University of California, Davis, in 2014. Currently she is pursuing a PhD at Northwestern University in Chicago. mayfield is most curious about intersectional politics, cultural organizing, gender fuck, ancestral memory, dancing flesh, and dance improvisation.

(source: contactquarterly.com)

mayfield brooks, *INtervention: In The Break With Karen Nelson* (2013)

A further note on the connection between IWB and Contact Improvisation can be found at https://contactquarterly.com/cq/article-gallery/view/ci-intersections.pdf

**touching myself: a refusal of contact improvisationmayfield brooksAs a critical** As a participant in the dance form known as Contact Improvisation (CI), I approach these questions with trepidation due to the oversaturated culture of whiteness in the so-called “Contact Community.” At this point, I have moved away from defining dance that involves touch, weight sharing, and partnering as Contact Improvisation. I have come to see CI more as a constel-lation of somatics and dance practices that involve an incredible multiplicity of elements as diverse as acrobatic athleticism and the practice of “trust falls” with a partner. I place CI within a continuum of improvisational dance that has certain parameters, skills, and historical knowledge attached to it. I said all that to say that I am actually in a place of refusal with CI. I rarely go to jams because they most often feel unwelcome to me as a black, queer, non-bi-nary person. Because there seems to be an element of assumed “community” in CI without an examination of the implications of such assumptions, I practice refusal within that context. Nevertheless, I do love the form and am now finding ways to love it by creating language that is more inclusive when I teach CI. For example, I never assume that people want to be touched. As a black person constantly dealing with anti-black violence, I understand trauma as a prerequisite to my very existence or—more aptly put—non-existence. This colors the way I interact with Contact Improvisation and is part of my refusal to fully embrace CI as a practice. CI is not just a dance, it’s a culture, and I am noticing that others are also cross-ex-amining the assumptions around touch, acceptance, and free will that run rampant in CI culture.My approach, my refusal, to CI is rooted in an ongoing practice that I have coined “Improvising While Black (IWB),” which centers blackness in its approach to Improvisation in general, specifically with Contact Improvisation, and allows me to accept my conflicted feelings when entering a CI class, workshop, or jam as a black person. I challenge myself to practice refusal. I make noise, disrupt comfort cuddle zones, and keep dancing, touching myself and other objects, asking permission to touch others, and doing CI (see I/eye) on my own terms.

See also an interview with Karen Nelson on https://contactquarterly.com/cq/article-gallery/view/iwbimprovising-while-black.pdf

And listen to the podcast from Dance Union: https://soundcloud.com/dance-union/life-is-improvised)