Jennifer Monson

The Kitchen

As a dance form, contact improvisation has always been something of a cult. Since its inception in the mid ’60s, its followers—performers and audiences alike—have remained a tight-knit group who understand its basic purpose as a research tool for discovering new, untutored movements. “Falling,” “releasing,” “trusting,” “touching”—words strung together like worry beads—represent the core vocabulary as well as the spirit of the beliefs on which these collaborative performances have always been based. Like improvisation in jazz, the thrill of shaping the unexpected has always driven contact-improvisation performances. Viewers can take pleasure in concentrated watching; they can see dancers thinking as they move and can wonder whether a particular combination is something freshly made before their eyes or one recalled from a previous afternoon’s run-through. Tacitly understood is the fact that

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