Contact Improv workshop with Mark Young and Lily Kane, Sept15-28, ’24

Arrive on Sunday, Sept15 in the afternoon. First class is Monday morning at 10am. Final class is Friday, Sept27th. This workshops ends at 10am Saturday with departure on the 11am ferry. $1500Canadian includes all meals, snacks, accommodation, tuition, taxes and transportation to/from the studio to the ferry. Go to ‘Contact Us’ on the right side of the page to register or inquire.

In this workshop, Mark will lead the morning class and Lily will lead the afternoon class. The evenings will be decided by the group, either we jam or watch movies. There are several videos on the history of Contact Improvisation.

In Mark’s class: This workshop connects Tai Chi to Material For the Spine to Contact Improvisation. It involves a lot of spiral movement. We start with floor work and slowly work our way up, rolling over each other, finding the floor with safe and gentle landings, we explore the fear reflex, overcoming old habits, exploring new pathways and possibilities.

The Tai Chi style that I studied extensively in the 90’s is based entirely on spiral movement. It is the natural organization of all life. Everything from the DNA to the Milky Way is spiralling. Our bones and muscles are designed and function in spirals. This way of moving accesses both strength and lightness. When lifting, we are stronger and more stable when utilizing spirals. When flying, we are lighter when twisted.

To help us access spirals in our body, we train extensively with Steve Paxton’s helix rolls from Material For the Spine. We will also train with Simone Forti’s, crescent rolls. And, we will look at how these movements play out in the Contact Improv duet, over and over again. When dancing, we are never in a pure spiral or a pure crescent. We are always in a hybrid of the two. Watch for it and then come explore.

Lily’s perspective and curiosity: Contact Improvisation is a method of embodied inquiry and a practice of physical skills and somatic intelligence. For me, it is also an ongoing philosophical, relational, and spiritual pursuit.

Classes will begin with exercises focused around tuning our attention – to sensation, to timing, to the subtlety and surprise of how weight falls, to the inevitability of change, etc. We will practice opening up our back-space, modulating tone through pushing, pulling, pouring, and receiving weight, and getting comfortable being off-balance. We will exercise patience, falling and going upside-down. We will investigate ways of offering / using our bodies as structural supports. We will spend a lot of time incorporating active & embodied inquiry into our practice: When dancing Contact Improvisation, I am in a continual cycle of asking questions. The longevity of my dance relies on the capacity of my curiosity, and my willingness to be in unknown terrain. I ask questions with my body, my attention, my relationship to weight, space, my partner(s), time…How can we use inquiry and curiosity as our motor for our dancing? All of these explorations will function as warm-ups for longer scores and durational practices, such as Barbara Dilley’s Contemplative Dance Practice.

I believe that when we are dancing Contact Improvisation, we are cultivating a state of collective communication and heightened sensitivity. To develop the state of trust needed to take risks, engage in dynamic movement, and play, we must exercise our our ability to listen and speak with our bodies and our senses. We must sharpen our reflexes and deepen our understanding of our bodies’ relationship to structure and physics. We must train mindfulness and meditation; disorientation and deep somatic awareness. Barbara Dilley’s structure of Contemplative Dance Practice is a wonderful playground for this dance. 

Lilianna Kane is a dancer and chef, currently invested in Contact Improvisation. She is committed to improvisation as a physical practice of asking questions and paying attention. She is curious about the disruption of normative culture through dancing and gathering. She values the interplay of rigour, discipline and play. She teaches and shares her practices nationally and internationally. She is currently the head chef at The Field Center in Bellows Falls, VT, where she also has the privilege of regularly practicing, teaching, and researching Contact Improvisation. Website:

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