Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Librarianship as Contact Improvisation : A Metaphor for Librarianship in Action: Home

Accompanying LibGuide for MLA/TLA 2021 presentation, by Christopher Schiff (Bates) and Marlene Wong (Smith), March 5, 2021.

What is Contact Improvisation?

"Contact Improvisation is an evolving system of movement initiated in 1972 by American choreographer Steve Paxton. The improvised dance form is based on the communication between two moving bodies that are in physical contact and their combined relationship to the physical laws that govern their motion—gravity, momentum, inertia. "

Excerpted from an early definition by Steve Paxton and others, 1970s, from CQ Vol. 5:1, Fall 1979

What is a Contact Jam?

"Contact Improvisation classes, workshops, festivals, and "jams" are happening all over the world. 

Contact Improvisation jams are leaderless practice environments in which dancers practice the dance form with whoever gathers—friends or strangers, old, young, experienced, novice. Some jams take place in a studio for a few hours once a week. Longer retreat jams might last several days, sometimes held in hot springs resorts or other retreat locations where dancers can practice at any hour of the day in the studio/lodge or take a rejuvenating soak or steam in the mineral waters."

Excerpted from About Contact Improvisation (Contact Quarterly)

"Fall After Newton"

1987. Color and B&W. Duration: 22:45

Featured performers: Steve Paxton, Nancy Stark Smith

Script/Narration: Steve Paxton

A sweeping look at 11 years of practice of Contact Improvisation by Nancy Stark Smith and initiator, Steve Paxton. The progression – from its beginnings in 1972 through successive years of performances up to 1983 – shows one strand of the development of this multifaceted duet dance form.

One of six programs included in Videoda Contact Improvisation Archive, Collected Edition 1972 – 1983 (DVD)

Steve Paxton, "Founder" of Contact Improvisation