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Please enjoy browsing the list I've compiled of books on Contact Improvisation and related subjects.
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Sharing the Dance - Contact Improvisation and American Culture

Cynthia Novak

In Sharing the Dance, Cynthia Novack considers the development of contact improvisation within its web of historical, social, and cultural contexts. This book examines the ways contact improvisers (and their surrounding communities) encode sexuality, spontaneity, and gender roles, as well as concepts of the self and society in their dancing.
While focusing on the changing practice of contact improvisation through two decades of social transformation, Novack’s work incorporates the history of rock dancing and disco, the modern and experimental dance movements of Merce Cunningham, Anna Halprin, and Judson Church, among others, and a variety of other physical activities, such as martial arts, aerobics, and wrestling.

Taken by Surprise: A Dance Improvisation Reader

Collaboratively compiled and ably co-edited by Ann Cooper Albright and David Gere, Taken By Surprise: A Dance Improvisation Reader collects together under one cover some twenty-one essays by well-known dancers, scholars, and historians. Discussing improvisation in dance within contexts and traditions ranging from Yoruban masked dance to Indian Bharatanatyam, flamenco, and more, Taken By Surprise offers an informed and insightful exploration into the art of impromptu dance, as well as the changing emotions expressed within its many forms.

Contact Improvisation: Moving, Dancing, Interaction

Thomas Kaltenbrunner

Contact Improvisation: An Introduction to a Vitalizing Dance Form

In this book the author draws upon her own experience and research to explain the art of contact improvisation, in which dance partners propel movement by physical contact. They roll, fall, spiral, leap, and slip along the contours and momentum of moving bodies. The text begins with a history, then describes the elements that define this form of dance. Subsequent chapters explore how contact improvisation relates to self and identity; how class, race, gender, culture and physiology influence dance; how dance promotes connection in a culture of isolation; and how it relates to the concept of community. The final chapter is a collection of exercises explained in the words of teachers from across the United States and abroad. Appendix A describes how to set up and maintain a weekly jam; Appendix B details recommended reading, videos and Web sites.

Contact Improvisation & Body-Mind Centering; A Manual for Teaching & Learning Movement

Author: Annie Brook

In this manual for both teaching and learning contact movement skills, readers learn to find creative approaches to awakening the body. Playful exercises for solos, pairs, and groups of dancers offer the physical support that allows emotional distress to sequence out of the body. Dancers learn to enhance their own sense of flow through the movement of an improvisational mind.

Action Theater: The Improvisation of Presence

Author - Ruth Zaporah

Dance Improvisations

Joyce Morganroth

This book has wonderful exercises to explore with friends, a class, and workshops of all kinds. Morgenroth starts with the planning of a session and brings you all the way through time, space, weight dependency, rhythm and breathing to the closure of a session. She details preparation, procedure, variations and observations in a straight forward, to the point maner. The exercises are interesting and stimulate movement in creative ways. I recommend this book to anyone exploring improvisational movement.


Andrea Olsen

An innovative guide to anatomy that uses techniques from yoga and dance to increase awareness of the body. BodyStories presents a much needed approach to human anatomy, one that is enlightening to beginning and graduate students alike. This is a book to be done, not merely read; as you engage in Olsen's programmed sequence of lessons, you become the text and the illustrations. This is experiential anatomy at its best. - review by Dean Juhan

Body and Earth: An Experiential Guide

by Andrea Olsen

A comprehensive guide to the basic philosophy and key elements of Body-Mind Centering®, with concrete and poetic explorations, clear exercises, and extensive photos and drawings.

Sensing, Feeling, and Action: The Experiential Anatomy of Body-Mind Centering

Author: Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen

Movement educator Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen describes her innovative approach to movement analysis and reeducation through her collected articles and interviews from Contact Quarterly, 1980-1992.

The Wisdom of the Body Moving: An Introduction to Body-Mind Centering

Author: Linda Hartley

Body-Mind Centering, developed by physical therapist and dancer Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, systematically explores the complex relationships between bodily experience and science. Hartley puts forth BMC's philosophy and its key components of investigating the "minds" of our skeletal systems, digestive organs, etc., through breath and imagery. "A specific `mind,'" she says, "can be experienced and witnessed when we direct our attention to a particular body system or part of the body, or when we move with a certain focus and identifiable quality." Starting with basic cellular structure, she takes readers through in utero development, birth, patterns of growth, and the body's many systems. The book's many photographs illustrating various exercises combine with anatomical drawings and generous endnotes and bibliography to make it a thorough grounding for further study. Whitney Scott

Job's Body: A Handbook for Bodywork

Author: Deane Juhan

This fascinating text offers everything a health practitioner, massage therapist, exercise instructor, or student of human potential could hope for: an information-packed reference on the workings of the body and mind; a broad assortment of strategies for releasing tension, freeing energy, and enhancing health through "hands-on" bodywork; an eloquent exploration of the most mysterious and powerful of all human interactions--touch. - Dr. Ken Dychtwald

Handbook in Motion

by Simone Forti

An Account of an Ongoing Personal Discourse and its manifestations in Dance. Simone Forti is a dancer who has always forged her own path. She arrived in New York in the early 60's from California. She brought with her a series of pieces that proved to be of serious influence on the development of "post modern" dance and sculpture in years to come. Her "dance-constructions" were based on a concern with bodies in action, the movement not being stylized or presented for its visual line but rather as a physical fact. The artist traces the development of her work intuitively rather than chronologically, including narratives about a time of participation in the drug culture that sheds light on the changes in her dancing. The book includes drawings, "dance reports" (short descriptions of events whose movement made a deep impression on the author's memory), and documentary materials such as scores, descriptions, and photographic records of performances.

My Body, The Buddhist

by Deborah Hay

Through a series of imaginative approaches to movement and performance, choreographer Deborah Hay presents a profound reflection on the ephemeral nature of the self and the body as the locus of artistic consciousness. Using the same uniquely playful poetics of her revolutionary choreography, she delivers one of the most revealing accounts of what art creation entails and the ways in which the body, the center of our aesthetic knowledge of the world, can be regarded as our most informed teacher.

My Body, The Buddhist becomes a way into Hay's choreographic techniques, a gloss on her philosophy of the body (which shares much with Buddhism), and an extraordinary artist's primer. The book is composed of nineteen short chapters ("my body likes to rest," "my body finds energy in surrender," "my body is bored by answers"), each an example of what Susan Foster calls Hay's "daily attentiveness to the body's articulateness."

Lamb at the Altar: The Story of a Dance

by Deborah Hay

"The intention of my work is to dislodge assumptions about the fixity of the three-dimensional body."—Deborah Hay

Her movements are uncharacteristic, her words subversive, her dances unlike anything done before—and this is the story of how it all works. A founding member of the famed Judson Dance Theater and a past performer in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Deborah Hay is well known for choreographing works using large groups of trained and untrained dancers whose surprising combinations test the limits of the art. Lamb at the Altar is Hay’s account of a four-month seminar on movement and performance held in Austin, Texas, in 1991. There, forty-four trained and untrained dancers became the human laboratory for Hay’s creation of the dance Lamb, lamb, lamb . . . , a work that she later distilled into an evening-length solo piece, Lamb at the Altar. In her book, in part a reflection on her life as a dancer and choreographer, Hay tells how this dance came to be. She includes a movement libretto (a prose dance score) and numerous photographs by Phyllis Liedeker documenting the dance’s four-month emergence.
In an original style that has marked her teaching and writing, Hay describes her thoughts as the dance progresses, commenting on the process and on the work itself, and ultimately creating a remarkable document on the movements—precise and mysterious, mental and physical—that go into the making of a dance. Having replaced traditional movement technique with a form she calls a performance meditation practice, Hay describes how dance is enlivened, as is each living moment, by the perception of dying and then involves a freeing of this perception from emotional, psychological, clinical, and cultural attitudes into movement. Lamb at the Altar tells the story of this process as specifically practiced in the creation of a single piece.
Swirly Motif

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