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Contact improvisation as an art of relating: The importance of touch for building positive interaction

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This article analyses the specific characteristics of Contact Improvisation (CI) that can support building positive interaction and well-being in community contexts. It examines the possibilities of the dance form to widen attitudes towards touch and to build skills in touching and communication, also with people experiencing difficulties with touch. CI practice proposes a different way of being and relating to people, challenging normative behaviour and creating communal feelings by emphasizing togetherness and connectedness. It can have many positive effects, including enhancing awareness and encouraging playfulness and mutual support, as well as increasing the joy of life, as demonstrated in my study with professionals and women in vulnerable positions. The article also suggests that, although the potential for negatively experienced touch needs attention in CI practice and in society at large, building skills and awareness in qualities of how to touch can reduce such experiences. In terms of currently acceptable modes of touching in contemporary culture, touching in particular ways can also be seen as political, suggesting a strong potential influence of dancing on everyday life.
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Keywords: community dance; contact improvisation; dance; interaction; relating; touch

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Independent dance and performance artist

Publication date: June 1, 2015

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  • This journal focuses on the relationship between dance and somatic practices, and the influence of this body of practice on the wider performing arts. The journal will be aimed at scholars and artists, providing a space for practitioners and theorists to debate the work, to consider the impact and influence of the work on performance, the interventions that somatic practices can have on other disciplines and the implications for research and teaching.
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