Contact Improvisation

Living Arts Collective is inspired to hold space for the practice of Contact Improvisation – a dance form based on play with weight-sharing, touch, imagination, and the physics of our bodies on earth.  We’ve found the practice to be incredibly effective at generating healing, fun, connection, community, and resilience.

Contact Improvisation is an improvisational art-sport with technique focused on touch, weight-sharing, momentum, and an ethic of experimentation with both physical forces and relational dynamics. It’s also a container to research perceptual flexibility, state-shifting, intimacy, mutuality, community, and embodied poetics. While duets are often the most known or visible aspect of CI practice, we practice partnering with physical forces, several people at once, the entire group, imagery, and the space around us. Professional dancers train in the form to improve their partnering skills and generate new material. Amateurs find community, strength, softness, agility, expression, and body-mind-spirit growth and integration. While anyone can touch and improvise without taking a class, the techniques presented in our programming will open the doors to more connected and athletic dances, give you basic fluency in a language of interaction shared by practitioners all over the world, and build the groundwork for a community of deep practice here in the Triangle.

Upcoming Classes

Our Our May/June Contact Improvisation season has something for everyone!

7 Flavors of Jam Series~ CI Jams with Live Improvised Music and Guided Warm-ups!~

Each week there will be warm-ups provided by different experienced teachers, live improvised music with different musicians, and plenty of time for open jamming and play. Sign up for the entire series to support the event and reduce the per-jam cost (we prefer this!) or drop-in when you can.

7-Week Spirit and Technique of Contact Improvisation Series on Tuesdays (Open Level) and Wednesdays (Intermediate+)~

Starting in mid-May, Em Liptow and Len Foyle will be co-teaching an open-level/beginner-friendly CI series on Tuesday nights and Coda Badamo-Connors and Toni Craige will be co-teaching a series for more experienced dancers on Wednesday nights. Both series are 7 weeks long, and students must sign up for the entire series~ they will be nourishing learning experiences and spaces to build community connection.

Weekend Events~

We will be hosting our signature 2.5 hour “Contact Improvisation Fundamentals” workshop on Sunday, 4/28 from 3:30-6pm. Come try CI for the first time or re-engage with the basics from a new perspective. This is an ideal way to try out Len and Em’s teaching before committing to the 7-week Tuesday night series.

Read on to find out which event(s) are right for you!

*** Please note that our CI and somatics events are capped at 24-30 participants and regularly sell out weeks in advance– please register early! ***

Time for inspiring collaborative play~

Seven Flavors of Jam Series~ CI Jams with Live Improvised Music and Guided Warm-ups!

MONDAYS, May 13th – June 24th, 7:00-9:00 PM

Each week there will be warm-ups provided by different experienced teachers, live improvised music with different musicians, and plenty of time for open jamming and play. Sign up for the entire series to support the event and reduce the per-jam cost (we prefer this!) or drop-in when you can. Some experience with contact improvisation is required (one of our open-level series or the equivalent). Space opens at 6:40, opening circle is at 7:10.

Location: Shared Visions Retreat Center

Register early!

Event Summary

Date: Mondays, May 13th – June 24th
Time: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Place: Shared Visions Retreat Center (LAC Satellite Space), 3717 Murphy School Rd

Seven Contact Improvisation Jams each with their own unique flavor composed of…

A warm-up guided by an experienced teacher to create coherence and intention in the space. So far confirmed teachers include Toni Craige, Ray Schwartz, Em Liptow, Len Foyle, Coda Badamo-Connors, and Aubrey Roze. 7th surprise teacher TBD!
Live Improvised music curated by Aubrü Roze. Different combinations of musicians and instrumentation each week.
Lots of time for free, collaborative play.

SCHEDULE:
6:40pm~ Space opens for warming up and socializing.
7:00~ Talking stops, arriving into embodied presence with music.
7:10~ Brief opening circle to introduce the teacher for the night and orient to our community agreements for the time together.
7:20-7:40ish~ Warm-up provided by an experienced community member.
8:50~ Brief closing circle.
9:00~ Hang out and socialize a bit indoors or outdoors on the gorgeous porch!

Event Details

Please arrive 5-20 minutes early to be ready to start on time.

The jam is contact improvisation-flavored, but has space for solo and ensemble improvisation as well. Foundational competency in Contact Improvisation technique, including safe weight sharing and effective skills around communication and consent are required. Past or current participation on one of our Open-Level Spirit and Technique of Contact Improvisation courses, or equivalent experience is a prerequisite. Those with less experience are welcome to drop-in and observe the event (it will be gorgeous!) or move in solo. Familiarizing yourself with these jam guidelines from another community is a good idea if you have less experience with CI jamming. We have our own unique jamming culture which we will speak about in the opening circle, and are also generally in agreement with what is presented here.

All body types, ages, and abilities are invited to participate. We will be rolling and moving on the floor and transitioning up and down off of the floor. If you have concerns about the physicality of the class, email us to ask if it seems like a good fit for you~ ci@livingartscollective.com

Wear comfortable clothing that covers your shoulders and knees (a t-shirt plus sweats or pajama pants is ideal). Layers are also nice since activities will range from quiet and meditative to vigorous.

Knee pads will be helpful for the class– you can purchase those here. https://dancekneepads.com/products/natural-kneepads-pair

Price
We welcome dancers to participate in these offerings by committing to the full series, or dropping in as you are able. It’s very helpful for us (and we think it will be great for you too!) when you commit to the whole series. Having a “core group” of participants will create cohesion and safety throughout the series, and we think it will be a really exciting journey to experience all or most of the jams. That being said, we absolutely welcome you to drop in if the full commitment doesn’t work well for you at this time.

• SERIES: Jam series is $105/175/245 sliding scale for the 7 jams ($15/25/35 per jam). $175 is the suggested amount, $105 is for those with less access to resources, and $245 is for those with more access to resources. Please pay the highest amount you can comfortably afford. If you’d like to come but cannot afford the lowest price tier, please reach out for a further discount. If you are moved to contribute to a scholarship fund, also let us know that.

• DROP-INS: Drop ins are sliding scale $20/30/40.

Registration
There are discounts available for registering for this series early (15%MAYJUNEEARLY), and for two or more series early (30%MAYJUNE2+). Earlybird discounts expire at midnight on Monday, April 29th. You can also get 15% off for registering for 2+ series later in the process (15%MAYJUNE2+). Use codes when you check out via our online system, Acuity. Register early!

Covid and Cancelation Policies

Toni Craig Contact Improv Instructor dancing with a student
Finding dynamic, poetic support together~

7-Week OPEN LEVEL Spirit and Technique of Contact Improvisation Series on Tuesdays

TUESDAYS May 14th – June 25th, 7:00-9:00 PM

This series provides an immersive dive into the fundamental skills, concepts, and techniques of Contact Improvisation practice, providing a solid foundation for a lifetime of play. It is a great opportunity to get your CI practice started for the first time or to deepen your engagement with the form. An incredible group of humans will come together to dance, grow, and learn together over the 7 weeks~ Join us and invite a friend!

Location: Shared Visions Retreat Center

Register early!

Event Summary

Date: Tuesdays, May 14th – June 25th
Time: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Place: Shared Visions Retreat Center (LAC Satellite Space)
3717 Murphy School Rd, Durham, NC

This series provides an immersive dive into the fundamental skills, concepts, and techniques of Contact Improvisation practice, providing a solid foundation for a lifetime of play. It is a great opportunity to get your CI practice started for the first time or to deepen your engagement with the form. An incredible group of humans will come together to dance, grow, and learn together over the 7 weeks!
We will start from the ground up building awareness, listening, trust, and safety. By the end of the series you’ll be playing freely in solo, duet, and group improvisations, and finding your flow with weight sharing, momentum, and lifts. Over the course of the 7 weeks you’ll gain the skills you need to:

  • Navigate emotional safety, boundaries, and consent in touch-based dancing.
  • Share weight safely.
  • Move with more efficiency, ease, and creative expression.
  • Finding many doorways into a dance – working with the elements, body systems, and imagination to find fresh states and pathways.
  • Developing dances slowly from a place of listening through bodywork and specific practices of attention.
  • CI as a social form – bringing our whole selves to the practice and discovering the play, rest, and vitality that the form can bring.

Event Details

Please arrive 5-20 minutes early to be ready to begin at 7:00.

No experience necessary. All body types, ages, and abilities are invited to participate. We will be rolling and moving on the floor and transitioning up and down off of the floor. If you have concerns about the physicality of the class, email us to ask if it seems like a good fit for you~ ci@livingartscollective.com

Wear comfortable clothing that covers your shoulders and knees (a t-shirt plus sweats or pajama pants is ideal). Layers are also nice since activities will range from quiet and meditative to vigorous.

Knee pads will be helpful for the class– ]you can purchase them here. https://dancekneepads.com/products/natural-kneepads-pair

Price
Class is $140/210/280 sliding scale for the 7 classes ($20/30/40 per class). $210 is the suggested amount, $140 is for those with less access to resources, and $280 is for those with more access to resources. Please pay the highest amount you can comfortably afford. If you’d like to come but cannot afford the lowest price tier, please reach out for a further discount. If you are moved to contribute to a scholarship fund, also let us know that.

Full Commitment
Generally speaking, you must register for the full series in order to participate– we’ve found that having a stable group builds safety and depth. Very advanced movers can drop in on a case-by-case basis. Email us to inquire~ ci@livingartscollective.com

Registration
There are discounts available for registering for this series early (15%MAYJUNEEARLY), and for two or more series early (30%MAYJUNE2+). Earlybird discounts expire at midnight on Monday, April 29th. You can also get 15% off for registering for 2+ series later in the process (15%MAYJUNE2+). Use codes when you check out via our online system, Acuity. Register early!

Covid and Cancelation Policies

About the Teachers

Len Foyle

Len Foyle (they/them), BFA, is a dance maker, improviser, and farmer who engages with the moving body as a source of queer pleasure, social disruption, and self-sustainability. Their perspective is informed by their studies at the London Contemporary Dance School, Virginia Commonwealth University, workshops, jams, and residencies around the world, Aikido, and their years spent in communion with the land and elements, growing food and cultivating the regeneration of soil.

Len is fascinated by the inherent queerness of CI: the proposition and acceptance of failure and disorder, the opportunity to build and nurture worlds that disrupt patriarchal and colonial understandings of bodies and relationships, and the mercurially playful and whimsical nature of jamming.

em liptow

emily liptow (she/they) is a dancer, performing artist, and facilitator from the watershed of Lake Erie near Cleveland, Ohio. She recently moved to Durham to pursue an MFA in Dance/Embodied Interdisciplinary Praxis and has been delighted to be a part of the vibrant dance ecosystem here. Following a feeling, she’s found her way into contact improvisation communities on the east coast, Oberlin, Costa Rica, Italy, and Germany. Alongside CI, their practice is shaped by capoeira, Butoh, circle singing, and devised theatre, and their research swirls around sensory experience, ritual, thresholds, and intergenerational community. For em, CI has been a container for study and play, nurturing intimacy with the body, gravity, and neurodivergent ways of being. Moving with other bodies is one of their most favorite things to do, though dancing with trees comes in as a very close second.

Toni Craig Contact improvisation instructor dancing with her class
Cultivating presence and adaptability in all kinds of situations~

7-Week INTERMEDIATE+ Spirit and Technique of Contact Improvisation Series on Wednesdays

WEDNESDAYS, May 15th – June 26th, 7:00-9:00 PM

This series is designed for dancers with some experience in CI who would like to deepen their practice in an intermediate-level context. We will focus on: 1) More athletic elements of CI practice (inversions, lifts, falling together, etc), 2) Weigh-sharing with momentum, and 3) and deeper listening and creativity in solo, with a partner, and with the group.

Email us BEFORE registering if you aren’t sure about your level- ci@livingartscollective.com

Location: Shared Visions Retreat Center

Register early!

Event Summary

Date: Wednesdays, May 15th – June 26th
Time: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Place: Shared Visions Retreat Center (LAC Satalite Space), 3717 Murphy School Rd

DELICIOUS DANCING~

This series is designed for movers with substantial experience in CI who would like to deepen their practice in an intermediate+ level context. We will get into:

  • More athletic elements of CI practice (inversions, lifts, falling together, etc).
  • Weight sharing with momentum.
  • Finding many doorways into a dance – working with the elements, body systems, and imagination to find fresh states and pathways.
  • Developing dances slowly from a place of listening through bodywork and specific practices of attention.
  • CI as a social form – bringing our whole selves to the practice and discovering the play, rest, and vitality that the form can bring.

WHAT IS “INTERMEDIATE”?

This is an intermediate level class, meaning that~~~ Students should be comfortable moving in and out of the floor in solo and with other bodies, navigating boundaries and physical/emotional safety in CI, and have basic weight sharing skills. If you have concerns about the level of the class, please email us to ask if it seems like a good fit BEFORE signing up~ ci@livingartscollective.com

Event Details

Please arrive 5-20 minutes early to be ready to begin at 7:00.

Intermediate Series
This is an intermediate level class, meaning that~~~ Students should be comfortable moving in and out of the floor in solo and with other bodies, navigating boundaries and physical/emotional safety in CI, and have basic weight sharing skills. If you have concerns about the level of the class, please email us to ask if it seems like a good fit BEFORE signing up~ ci@livingartscollective.com

All body types, ages, and abilities are invited to participate. We will be rolling and moving on the floor and transitioning up and down off of the floor. If you have concerns about the physicality of the class, email us to ask if it seems like a good fit for you~ ci@livingartscollective.com

Wear comfortable clothing that covers your shoulders and knees (a t-shirt plus sweats or pajama pants is ideal). Layers are also nice since activities will range from quiet and meditative to vigorous.

Knee pads will be helpful for the class– you can purchase them here. https://dancekneepads.com/products/natural-kneepads-pair

Price
Class is $140/210/280 sliding scale for the 7 classes ($20/30/40 per class). $210 is the suggested amount, $140 is for those with less access to resources, and $280 is for those with more access to resources. Please pay the highest amount you can comfortably afford. If you’d like to come but cannot afford the lowest price tier, please reach out for a further discount. If you are moved to contribute to a scholarship fund, also let us know that.

Full Commitment
Generally speaking, you must register for the full series in order to participate– we’ve found that having a stable group builds safety and depth. Very advanced movers can drop in on a case-by-case basis. Email us to inquire~ ci@livingartscollective.com

Registration
There are discounts available for registering for this series early (15%MAYJUNEEARLY), and for two or more series early (30%MAYJUNEBE). Earlybird discounts expire at midnight on Monday, April 29th. You can also get 15% off for registering for 2+ series later in the process (15%MAYJUNEBOTH). Use codes when you check out via our online system, Acuity. Register early!

Covid and Cancelation Policies

About the Teachers

Toni Craige

Toni Craige (she/her), MFA, M.Ed., is a bodyworker, somatic coach, and dance artist working in Durham and Raleigh, NC.

Toni works with clients 1:1 as a BODYWORK + MOVEMENT THERAPIST and SOMATIC COACH, specializing in individuals who struggle with physical pain, feel that it may be connected to current or past stressful experiences, and are looking for a holistic path towards pain relief and emotional healing. As a DANCE TEACHER she builds individual and community resilience through group movement classes. Her background as a DANCE ARTIST infuses all of her work with an appreciation for beauty, imagination, deep feeling, and creativity.

Toni started practicing Contact Improvisation in 2006 and has been teaching regularly in the Triangle since 2012. She completed her MFA in Choreography and Performance at Smith College in 2020, her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at NCSU in 2016, and her BA in Dance at Wesleyan University in 2009.

Tonicraige.com

Coda Badamo-Connors

Coda Badamo-Connors’ (they/he/it’s) earliest movement practices include climbing trees & rolling on the sands of Lake Michigan. After formal training from ballet to boxing, it came home to improvisational movement in 2014 through flow arts, fire dancing, and CI. Coda has been facilitating group movement in 2017, collaborating with dance communities in Galesburg, Madison, Chicago, Asheville, and now the Triangle. His movement practices are informed by the queer chaos of ecology, and his facilitation is in service of a strengthened cultural integrity within CI spaces.

Starting as an apprentice to practitioners of Thai bodywork in 2015, Coda studied functional anatomy and treatment of pain, obtaining Thai bodywork certification in 2018. He partook in residencies with the Subbody Butoh school in India, and the Toward Centre for Practice and Research of Contact Improvisation in Thailand.

contact improvisation dancers
Three dimensional, playful exploration~

Contact Improvisation Fundamentals with Em Liptow and Len Foyle

Sunday April 28th
3:30-6:00 PM

This 2.5-hour workshop provides an immersive dive into the fundamental skills, concepts, and techniques of Contact Improvisation practice, providing the groundwork to safely continue learning the form in the context of jamming and ongoing classes. You’ll get some basic physical and emotional safety and techniques under your belt, and get a taste of the joy of the practice! Ideal for anyone of any skill or experience level who wants to move in safe and fun ways in contact with other bodies.

Location: Shared Visions Retreat Center

Register Early!

Event Summary

Date: Sunday, April 28th
Time: 3:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Place: Shared Visions Retreat Center (LAC Satellite Space), 3717 Murphy School Rd

This 2.5-hour workshop provides an immersive dive into the fundamental skills, concepts, and techniques of Contact Improvisation practice, providing the groundwork to safely continue learning the form in the context of jamming and ongoing classes. You’ll get some basic physical and emotional safety and techniques under your belt, and get a taste of the joy of the practice! Ideal for anyone of any skill or experience level who wants to move in safe and fun ways in contact with other bodies.

***This class is a great time to get your CI practice started for the first time or to re-invigorate if you’ve fallen out of practice.***

More experienced students are invited to come with a newbie friend to help ease them into the practice. It will be a nice review and deepening for you.

Beginners are also welcome to bring themselves, one friend, or a gaggle of friends to enjoy the experience!

The intention is for this to be a titrated and gentle experience, recognizing that many of us have not been sharing physical proximity with others much lately or may not have been as physically active. We will also ramp up into some vigorous physicality and have a lot of fun!

Event Details

Please arrive 5-20 minutes early to be ready to begin at 7:00.

No experience necessary. All body types, ages, and abilities are invited to participate. We will be rolling and moving on the floor and transitioning up and down off of the floor. If you have concerns about the physicality of the class, email us to ask if it seems like a good fit for you~ ci@livingartscollective.com

Wear comfortable clothing that covers your shoulders and knees (a t-shirt plus sweats or pajama pants is ideal). Layers are also nice since activities will range from quiet and meditative to vigorous.

Knee pads will be helpful for the class–  you can purchase them here. https://dancekneepads.com/products/natural-kneepads-pair

Price
Workshop cost is $25/$38/$50. The middle number is the suggested amount, the lower one is for those with less access to resources, and the higher one is for those with more access to resources. Please pay the highest amount you can comfortably afford. If you’d like to come but cannot afford the lowest price tier, please reach out to CI@livingartscollecitve.com for a further discount. If you are moved to contribute to a scholarship fund, please also let us know that.

Registration
There is a discount available for registering for this class by midnight on Sunday, 4/14 (15%APRIL28EARLY). Use code when you check out via our online system, Acuity. Register early!

Covid and Cancelation Policies

About the Teachers

Len Foyle

Len Foyle (they/them), BFA, is a dance maker, improviser, and farmer who engages with the moving body as a source of queer pleasure, social disruption, and self-sustainability. Their perspective is informed by their studies at the London Contemporary Dance School, Virginia Commonwealth University, workshops, jams, and residencies around the world, Aikido, and their years spent in communion with the land and elements, growing food and cultivating the regeneration of soil.

Len is fascinated by the inherent queerness of CI: the proposition and acceptance of failure and disorder, the opportunity to build and nurture worlds that disrupt patriarchal and colonial understandings of bodies and relationships, and the mercurially playful and whimsical nature of jamming.

em liptow

emily liptow (she/they) is a dancer, performing artist, and facilitator from the watershed of Lake Erie near Cleveland, Ohio. She recently moved to Durham to pursue an MFA in Dance/Embodied Interdisciplinary Praxis and has been delighted to be a part of the vibrant dance ecosystem here. Following a feeling, she’s found her way into contact improvisation communities on the east coast, Oberlin, Costa Rica, Italy, and Germany. Alongside CI, their practice is shaped by capoeira, Butoh, circle singing, and devised theatre, and their research swirls around sensory experience, ritual, thresholds, and intergenerational community. For em, CI has been a container for study and play, nurturing intimacy with the body, gravity, and neurodivergent ways of being. Moving with other bodies is one of their most favorite things to do, though dancing with trees comes in as a very close second.

Registration

Cancelation/Refund Policy

Multi-Week Series
In general there are no refunds available for the series and no make-ups for missed classes. We encourage folks who know they need to miss a few classes to pay at the lower end of the sliding scale and take advantage of early registration discounts to compensate for this. There are a few exceptions in terms of refunds: In the case of an injury or illness which means the student cannot return to the class, we may consider a pro-rated refund. We also reserve the right to terminate anyone’s membership in the class if their behavior is unsafe or disrespectful. We may or may not provide a pro-rated refund in this case. For those who may decide that the class is not a good fit at this time for whatever reason, we offer a 50% refund if you withdraw before the 3rd class. If you decide to withdraw before the series begins, we will refund your money minus a 20% processing fee.

One Day Events
If you need to cancel your reservation before class begins, email us your request and we will refund your money minus a 20% processing fee. There are no refunds available once the class has begun. We will process all refunds the week after the workshop and it will take another bit of time for the money to return to your account.

Covid-19 Precautions

Humans of all vaccination statuses are welcome. Masking is optional. Please follow CDC guidelines in the case of symptoms, exposure, and recovery.

CDC Guidelines

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