Contact Community – A Cherished Myth or Experienced Reality?

IMG_7659By Anna Jussilainen

Despite the growing interest in community issues around Contact Improvisation hardly any studies have been done directly on this theme. Yet there is much discussion about community among the practitioners and many feel they belong to one. What do we actually mean by community and how is it created and sustained? I will approach these questions by first building on the notion of community utilised by the sociologist David B. Clark, who suggests that the essential
elements of a community are solidarity (feeling of “us”) and significance (everyone has an important role to play). I will then introduce the concept of ‘communitas’ (“feeling of temporary unity”) by anthropologist Victor Turner, widely known for his theory of ritual and performance. I argue that CI jams and events can be seen as spaces for building community and also look at the intrinsic qualities of the form itself that encourage the feeling of togetherness. While the idea of community is often emphasised inside the form, however, that might not be the experienced reality for everybody.

Photograhed by Atahuallpa Mejia