Contact Improv with Olivia Shaffer, July26-Aug1, 2020

Deepen the Improvised Dance in and out of contact, an intensive with Olivia Shaffer

This five day retreat is for anyone who wishes to expand their movement creativity. We will dive into cultivating a sensitivity to space, time, and interconnection with ourselves and others, both in contact and apart. Olivia’s approach to dance is rooted in embodied presence. She believes that enhancing our sense of body-awareness facilitates an agile body and a quiet mind. As a result, we open up the possibility for more improvisational freedom by following impulse and listening beyond thought.

Photo by Yvonne Chew

Class will incorporate guided warm-up to attune with gravity and sense the subtle modulations of muscular tone in our body. Developmental movement principles such as yielding, head-tail connection, and push patterns will facilitate pathways that move us in and out of the floor with ease and efficiency. We will travel through space using “scores of limitation,” to liberate habitual patterning and enrich the possibilities of our dancing. Moving together, we will practice meeting and leaving our dances with play and curiosity. We will pass through a breadth of explorations, from practical CI technique to authentic movement.

Photo by Soren Wacker

Olivia is a professional dancer and choreographer based in Vancouver, BC. She has trained daily in Contact Improvisation (CI) since 2011 as a dedicated student of master teacher, Peter Bingham, and has performed with his company EDAM Dance since 2014. Olivia has also trained extensively with somatic and dance improvisation expert Helen Walkley. Her pedagogy is also influenced by her many other teachers, including international CI teachers Alicia Grayson, Karen Nelson, Andrew Harwood, Ray Chung, Chris Aiken, Frey Faust, John Faichney, Martin Keogh, and Angelika Doniy, among others.

Olivia engages with CI as a movement meditation and a rigorous form of play. She holds space in a way that assures physical safety and emotional consent which allows for beautiful discoveries to happen. She facilitates fun, collaborative, and physically empathetic dancing for those of all levels of experience. Olivia teaches regularly at EDAM in Vancouver. She has been a guest instructor at Simon Fraser University, Douglas College, Modus Operandi, Polymer Dance, Salt Spring, Leviathan Studios, Ballet BC, and internationally at Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation, the Berkeley Jam, and at the University of the Philippines. (

Arrive on Sunday, July26 in the afternoon for snacks, dinner, orientation, jam, and sauna. The first class is on Monday, July27 at 10am right after opening circle. The final jam is in the evening of Friday, July31. This event ends on Saturday, Aug.1st at 10am, with delivery to the departing ferry at 11am. $600Canadian includes all meals, lodging, tuition, taxes and transportation on Lasqueti. Go to ‘Contact Us’ on the right of this page to register.

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