An Experiment in Contact Improvisation and Community

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By Mike Poltorak

How could contact improvisation be used as a core practice in establishing a space of communication and development of an intentional community?

The contact improvisation community in Europe is currently a loose network of people who see each other in classes, jams, in festivals and other events throughout the year. Fellow contacters may live together, but rarely is CI the basis of a community. There are a few dance based communities in Europe, such as Ponderosa in Germany,  but none have contact improvisation as a core practice. We are interested in establishing a  group of people to establish a community in Northern Catalonia, that would serve to test and develop the practice as a community dance form. The development of more body and dance based decision making and its contribution to building a space of satisfying and honest conviviality would make a real contribution to the growing interest in intentional communities.  It would also provide an inspirational meeting point to use and test indigenous community building practices, well detailed in the anthropological literature, but rarely tested or developed in practice.  Is it possible to develop a working, inspired European based CI community that would serve as a model for similar communities worldwide?  CI would of course not be the only inspiration. We would draw on the wealth of knowledge in our respective areas of expertise and build on the considerable knowledge of intentional communities worldwide. Many of us celebrate the form, but few of us use it explicitly to build conviviality and community. The neo-liberal and consumer based society makes this experiment an urgent necessity.

I intend to workshop this question using embodied decision making, drama based exercises,  and sharing and movement based exercises. We will use writing and drawing materials  and our bodies to visualise and create a ‘mission’ or ‘body-vision’ statement for the community.