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Techniques for Dancing Contact Improvisations

February 25 @ 6:30 PM - April 1 @ 8:30 PM NZDT


‘Contact Improvisation is an evolving system of movement initiated in 1972 by American choreographer Steve Paxton.

The improvised dance form is based on the communication between two moving bodies that are in physical contact and their combined relationship to the physical laws that govern their motion—gravity, momentum, inertia. The body, in order to open to these sensations, learns to release excess muscular tension and abandon a certain quality of wilfulness to experience the natural flow of movement. Practice includes rolling, falling, being upside down, following a physical point of contact, supporting and giving weight to a partner.’
“Every part of me feels very alive—turned on, awake, present, ready, both comfortable and on my edge, sharpened and softened, deepened and extended, challenged and soothed, and physically and energetically tuned to myself and others.” Nancy Stark Smith
The techniques that Juliet will teach in the classes include:
Preparing the body to receive touch and weight through all its surfaces equally, removing the hierarchy of touch, contact and support options that exist in the body and mind’s habitual use and developing the possibility and option of every surface of the body becoming available for the giving and receiving of weight and support.
Aligning the body with the floor and the space via its anatomical structure and the body’s relationship between the spine, the limbs and head. This develops our ability to move fluidly and smoothly from horizontal to vertical, to receive support equally from the earth and from the space in our bodies, and to connect the pathways between our bodies and the physical environment in which we are moving and dancing.

Taking these principles into moving with another body, another person through contact improvisations: preparing the body to experience the compositional and affective forces of weight, gravity,  momentum, balance, disorientation, recovery/centering, in solo and with a partner and developing skills in dealing with how these forces are experienced internally and externally in the process of dancing with another person or in a group.

Listening to, trusting and utilising our physical reflexes and tuning into our body’s innate wisdom and intelligence in how to actively utilise and move within the forces of gravity, weight, momentum, balance; actively engaging and playing within them solo and with a partner.

Moving between the awareness and ability to tune into the internal state of one’s own personal body, to tune into one’s senses and the information that our body is presenting us with on a moment to moment basis.

Learning to extend and expand that information and awareness into moving and dancing with a partner, the earth, the space and the environment, the physical forces of gravity, momentum, balance, weight, touch.

Noticing the compositional relationships that emerge between these areas/zones of attention and states in our dancing and utilising them actively.

Class is comprised of one and a half hours of technique, followed by 30 minutes jamming and integration of exercises into dancing.

All levels welcome including beginners. 

Juliet Shelley has been teaching and dancing Contact Improvisation for most of her life. She has taught classes and workshops in the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, the USA, New Zealand, Singapore and Australia. Her teachers include Steve Paxton, Nancy Stark Smith, Chris Aiken and Kirstie Simson.  She taught CI for one year at the New Zealand School of Dance, and was an invited guest teacher at UNITEC Institute of Technology, California State University, USA and for London Contact Improvisation.  She is a dance artist, choreographer, producer and a teacher of the Alexander Technique and Pilates. 



February 25 @ 6:30 PM NZDT
April 1 @ 8:30 PM NZDT


Dance Studio Toi Poneke Arts Centre
69 Abel Smith Street, Te Aro
Wellington, New Zealand
View Venue Website


Juliet Shelley
+64 (0)21 156 4082
View Organiser Website


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