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