Image source: https://www.contactimprov.ca/on/ontario/2013/

by Ovidiu Brazdau, Julia Sima

“Connect Improvisation Jam” is an open space for enjoying 2-3 hours in a safe and playful movement environment, where you can connect with yourself and other humans in deep and meaningful ways, and enjoy witnessing other people interacting and dancing in an unplanned and spontaneous way.

We have been inspired to create this framework by our previous practice of contact improvisation, performative movement arts, sports, interpersonal meditation, ecstatic dance, and other physical, emotional, and awareness-based techniques for facilitating inner evolution and conscious transformation.

You are invited to explore all types of connections: with your body, soul, mind, time, space, the Universe, music, or with other humans, collective awareness or emotions, flowing movements and vibes.

Interactions can be physical, visual, emotional (e.g., body movement, contact improvisation-style, eye gazing, short interpersonal meditation, hugging, holding hands, etc.), or just participating in the collective awareness space.

During improvisation jams, you are welcome to practice a temporary soul-to-soul connection, not just physical interaction. The meeting is a safe space to practice openness and kindness, and enjoy the beauty and joy of human connection for a few hours, without any fears and blockages.

Movement interactions are spontaneous, and leading/following roles are fluid; any movement is allowed, as long as there is reciprocal care and mutual consent for that movement form.

Spontaneous group connections could form during jams; feel free to explore this type of connectivity, but increase your sensitivity to become aware of the collective dynamics, then flow with the group, adding your flavor to the collective.

Slow touch (slow movement) is recommended at the beginning of an interaction with someone, to increase reciprocal awareness and tune into each other.

All voices, every body and soul is welcome. No previous experience is necessary, just a willingness to be open, connect, and be aware of ourselves within the space. If you join the jam for the first time, please spend some time in the outer ring, witnessing and observing what’s happening.


Jam Structure


Opening gathering: 15 minutes for presenting the community agreements for safety, consent, and mutual exchanges, creating the collective awareness space.

Warm-up: just walk through the jam space, and do any warm-up exercises you prefer.

The jam spaces:

  • Inner ring: participants who are moving and/or interacting with each other through movement.
  • Outer ring: participants who want to witness, relax, practice yoga, write, draw, or interact in one-to-one exchanges (meditation, hugging, massage, eye gazing, holding hands, etc.).

Closing gathering: 15 minutes, for a collective reconnection and discussions.


Movement Guidelines


Respect the jam spaces: when you want to move, step into the inner ring; when you want to keep still, step into the outer ring. You can enter the inner ring without the need to dance with someone, just express yourself through any form of movement.

You are invited to move in the inner ring in any way you prefer, including contact improvisation weight-sharing, rolling point of contact, using touch to follow & ride momentum, tango movements, traditional dances, authentic movement, contemporary dance, exotic dances, etc.

Remember that this is a space for improvisation, so, after a while, deconstruct any pattern you have and allow yourself to start anew with a new partner or just by yourself. Practice letting go of each dance experience. No matter how amazing a dance is, try to let go of your expectations for future dances, once the dance is over.

Expand your awareness by exploring how other participants move and flow. E.g., if someone has a pattern of dance they enjoy, feel free to mirror their movements and explore what their movement style generates in you, without any physical contact with them.

Maintain an excellent space awareness while in the inner ring, so that you won’t hit or hurt other participants; still, if you accidentally run into someone, there is no problem; just smile, say I’m sorry, and pay more attention to the space; these unintentional kicks do happen from time to time, so, prepare to welcome these occasional bumpings with a smile.

Non-consensual pass-by pokes are not recommended. E.g., coming up to a person from behind (i.e., they can’t see you) and tickling their back. Establish a visual connection and get consent before touching someone.

You can use the outer ring for one-to-one interpersonal short connections through hugging, massage, eye gazing, or other forms of interaction based on mutual consent.


Community Agreements


Please treat others with awareness and care, including refraining from using scented products, avoiding transmission of infectious disease, not taking photos or videos, and not engaging in unsafe or unhealthy behaviors; Do not wear jewelry or watches. We aim to create an environment in which you feel safe to move, play, express, and improvise with one another.

Interpersonal connections are based on consent; everyone is free and requested to say ‘no’ if they don’t want to interact with someone; any participant can leave a relationship if they want to, without the need to explain anything to the partner. A given consent can be revoked at any time, without the need for justification – just smile or do a thank you gesture, then move away from the partner, and that’s all.

  • The jam spaces are non-verbal; use verbal communication only if necessary (e.g., when non-verbal ‘no’ is not enough, one can say ‘no’ verbally to any proposal for interaction).
  • If you can’t say ‘no’ to an invitation to dance, please do not join the inner ring, until you learn to say it clearly and assume responsibility for a healthy and safe interaction.
  • If you feel like expressing and relaxing some tension through verbal sounds, feel free to do it. Please be prepared to accept hearing funny or awkward sounds from other participants, while they relax and release various tensions. Welcome every sound you hear as a part of the collective healing process. Laughing and other forms of positive emotional expression are welcome.
  • If negative emotions surface, please move out of the inner and outer ring to a space where you can process the content, and ask one of the facilitators to support you, if needed. If the interaction triggers a traumatic memory and/or activates a healing process, don’t hesitate to contact the facilitator if you need support.
  • Be aware that sexual energy needs to be redirected into other forms of energy/connection; please read the link provided below, on how to manage this situation.
  • Please be aware that some participants can be highly sensitive and become easily overwhelmed by the sensory inputs. They need a more gentle and tender connection, and they may need more time alone, without any interactions.

We are continually evolving the jam space to create a safer and more inclusive container. We encourage personal autonomy, and if some interpersonal tensions appear, we recommend solving them through mature conversations. Please remember, you are fully responsible for saying yes or no. If you feel the tension persists after your conversation with the dance partner, please talk with the facilitator and tell them about your situation, and discuss the issue together. Let’s solve any issue with communication, kindness, responsibility, mutual respect, and understanding.

Additional information about contact improvisation and consent culture:
https://contactquarterly.com/contact-improvisation/about/
https://www.theeverythingspace.com/contact-improv.html
https://joerghassmann.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/fear-and-fun-in-making-choices-improvisation-not-only-in-ci/
https://contactimprovconsentculture.com/about/
https://joerghassmann.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/sexual-energy-in-contact-improvisation/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sexual-mindfulness/202207/the-need-mindful-non-sexual-touch