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our process + performance example

~from a survey request in 2010 & example of said process from performance at 2008 Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation~

Margaret’s Ghost HD-complete

  1. Describe the style/genre of dance you work in:

Contact Improvisation

  1. How many years have you been presenting your own dance works (choreographed or improvised)?

33 years- 7 in modern dance, 26 and counting in C.I.     I’ll be describing the process of making dance performance pieces with Patrick Gracewood, my Contact Improvisation dance partner for over 20 years.

  1. Define the phases of your project process from initial phase to final form:

We begin by noticing what is. This means arriving and beginning by noticing what we are noticing. We notice what calls our attention, what is happening, what wants to happen? The noticing is all-inclusive, so beginning may occur in any way. We have begun rehearsals dancing, but also sleeping, eating, crying, flying, talking, gawking…..     We’re curious about what happens when we attend to what’s there, what wants to emerge. We follow that. Asking, allowing, noticing- going where it takes us. Acknowledging where we are takes us where we need to go. We watch the process unfold. We watch the process reveal the piece in all its elements; it’s nature, structure, sound, costume, environment etc. We notice when the piece is complete and how it wants to change as we perform it.

  1. What would you say are the biggest obstacles for getting your work from the initial stages to an endpoint:

Forgetting to trust in the process. Various kinds of stress can cause us to forget that the process will show itself to us. When that happens we go into trying to make something up and have to work harder for a much less satisfying experience.

  1. What would be the top three factors that have made your projects a success:

Remembering to notice what is, whatever that is. Trusting in, relaxing in the process. Following the process as it reveals itself.

  1. What would be the top three factors that could cause distress during your process:

The primary factor is losing the fluid awareness of what is as it is changing. If a particular stress consumes the attention then that stress becomes distress instead of simply more information in the process. Such loss of perspective has occurred when facing things such as time constraints, forms of performance anxiety, unconscious expectations and assumptions, etc.

  1. Working with other dancers either as a leader or in collaboration, how do you develop dances:

I let the noticing of what is lead and reveal. The majority of my experience has been in collaboration with one other, but the process I’m describing is also how we’ve worked with groups. I was creating modern dance pieces, solo and group, in much the same way, but had not identified the process yet.

  1. Has there ever been a reason or situation that caused you not to be able to realize your project as you had hoped or imagined:

One phase of exploration was to dance ‘anybody, anywhere, anytime’. On numerous occasions particular non-negotiable rules or laws prevented us from realizing projects.

  1. How has your process changed from your initial projects to your present process:

The process has remained the same; it happened to us. Change came in the need to recognize and name it. This happened when we started working with other dancers. We quickly recognized that our process was unusual and therefore needed to be defined to avoid confusion and frustration. We needed to articulate the idea of being present with curiosity and awareness as a means to follow the piece’s unfolding.

  1. What is it about your process that works for you:

It is fun and easy. Exhilarating and relieving to refer to and rely on what is, moment by moment. Magical and comforting to know that what needs to be revealed will be. We get to relax because we trust in the unfolding. It’s energizing to bring the whole self to the moment. It’s mysterious and exciting while being obvious and grounded.

  1. Have you ever been part of another person’s process that you liked but have not used in your own work?   Why?

No, can’t think of that situation. If I like something I want to integrate it, if I don’t I let it go.

  1. Have you ever been part of another person’s process that you liked and used in your own process? Why?

I’ve included the form Authentic Movement in my process since being introduced to it. It provides a foundation of self-study in awareness and movement, a perfect preparation for exploring how we improvise with others in C.I. In general I am drawn to and influenced by systems that explore principles in C.I.

  1. Have you ever been part of another person’s process that you did not like? Why?

Yes, once we experimented with joining another person’s process. We quickly discovered that her process was very different than ours. Experiencing the contrast was useful to identify the distinction. Her process was to bring in ideas for our bodies to realize. Ours was to begin with the body to discover the ideas. The focus was trying to make something instead of being curious about what was already there. We noted a greater tendency for body/psyche injury in the idea driven approach compared to our experience of a tendency toward healing when allowing awareness of what is to inform the thinking. Moving from the outside in rather than the inside out was more effort and less satisfying.


Here’s to the next 20 from 20 ago!

Finally putting a little toe into the digital video age to be able to show as well as tell!

This is an improvised performance at the West Coast C.I. Festival in the mid 90’s. It was one of several that came out of playing with the spectrum of choices from passive to active.

Since then, it has become clear that each of has an automatic pilot that will tend toward a particular place on the spectrum of tone. By becoming aware of our default habits, we are able to choose and explore other options. Each other option that we try on opens a new set of possibilities. And the more options we become comfortable and familiar with the greater our safety and potential. Having options at the ready is key to caring for ourselves as the moment morphs!

Our interest in this spectrum of possibilities continues, ever informing us as we change. There is no end to investigation, ever more to be gleaned, remembered………     By focusing we arrive to take in the details present and exercise our agency in relation to them.

Hope to post a current version of exploring this spectrum, or some other. But, we’ll see as my interest gravitates much more towards the having of experience than the documenting of it (not to mention I’ve been sitting at the computer tooo long again!).

Happy exploring to you in 2017. I’d love to hear (or see) what you’re up to! Feel free to comment below.

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Union founds diversity

Some imagine that I dance to cope. Yes, it can help in that way. But, more to the point, to a much greater degree, I dance to evolve! Contact Improvisation offers an alternate paradigm to the cultural one that is sustainable and nourishing for all involved. It is extremely challenging to change paradigms, to become aware of deep conditioning and make different choices. But the effort involved is well worth the possibility of mutual well-being!


Union founds diversity.

We share similarities and differences. That is a given. Both are true.

We are all subject to the conditions of the earth plane.

We are all subject to the conditions of our unique circumstance.

We are interconnected, interdependent. We influence and are influenced.

We are here together in the gravitational earth soup, the nature of which depends upon diversity. Mono anything is death. Health is relational. Sickness is solitary.

The physical practice of Contact Improvisation proposes connection as a through line to support and align the richness of our vast diverse expression. It is a template to engage our essential birthright of belonging and freedom.

Have your inspiration, agenda, raison d’etre. Please. That is your unique contribution. AND have your unique in relationship to your absolute connection to all that is. Track your influence influencing. Track your influencing influenced. Track your part in relationship to the whole. Does it serve the whole, If so, it serves your self. If not, it is a detriment.

We yearn to belong. We are creatures that cannot exist alone. We need each other. In belonging we can relax and thrive. Belonging is the foundation for movement.

In C.I. let us physically explore connection as the basis for movement. Let us pay attention to our union to experience the expression of our uniqueness-es. Let us be oh so attentive and curious and ready and willing and able to continue to stay present to the incoming ever unfolding evolution of who we are and what is transpiring, now. What is alive NOW, present NOW, important NOW. May we trust in what is current to take us where we need to go!

Come to The WOW of Contact to immerse for a few days in reestablishing belonging as the basis for freedom.

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Thanksgiving 2016 C.I. Jam

IMG_6583November 25-27, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016 C.I. Jam

@ Gracewood Studio / 4920 NE 55th / 97218

drop, drool, dally, delight, discover…….   Treat yourself  to 2 & ½ days of dancing!!

The substance and trajectory of dance times will be designed by those present. Bring your curiosity, desire, intention, questions, scores, instruments…….. etc. to offer up and collaborate with.

In addition to an open studio for dancing, scheduled dancing times are-







4-7  (the regular Saturday Class/Jam time that will be honored as such and included in the event)




Food will be improvised and potluck. Kitchen available, stores close-by.

Bring towel for hot tub.  No fragrances please!

Housing is not available on site, but probably easy to locate via either Portland Contact Improvisation or Sacred Circle Dance Community – Ecstatic Dance in PDX facebook pages or airbnb.com

$55-$88 sliding scale for part or all of the event. 20% of proceeds go to Standing Rock

Space is limited. Please commit by preregistering! To do so use the Donate  button (to the right on this page) or send check to Carolyn Stuart / 4920 NE 55th / Portland, OR / 97218

Questions? Email touchmonk@yahoo.com or call 971-334-4599

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July 4th InteRdepenDANCE

JULY 4th, 2016    

10 am – midnight

Set dancing times will be 10-12 & 3-5, followed by potluckin’ and more dancin’!

A DAY of InteRdepenDANCING

To gather and celebrate by dancing our interdependence!

Drop by or linger, dance and lounge, potluck and schmooze.

Bring yourself (and a friend?) as you are and something to share.

There will be bbq, hot tub (bring towel) and a fire.

And sleeping over possible!

$11-$33 suggested donation (as you can afford, no one turned away)

Gracewood Studio / 4920 NE 55th / 97218

Questions? touchmonk@yahoo.com or 971-334-4599


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Another WOWzer approaches!

The 9th WOW of Contact w/ Touchmonkey @ Breitenbush Hot Springs coming  January 10-15, 2016!

Five precious days and nights to step away from the devices, the habits, the dramas, the duties and drop into the here and now, into the dance of being in the context of together!

A time to notice and dream. To question and quench what it means to connect and play. To explore and rewire the peace that our hearts require to relax and thrive.

C.I. develops by the practice of it. Identifying the ideas we carry about what we are doing is advantageous to evolve in our exploration. When intentions are named they create a frame of reference, a context to observe and deepen in our research.


Ideas that I bring from and for my practice of C.I. are-

*that it is our nature, our human circumstance, to be unique and connected at the same time.

*that it is of benefit to attend to this us that we are, to the relating of the you of you and the I of I.

For each to be supported in their truth by a web of acceptance that is curious and encouraging and caring is what I want for myself, and the world!


WOW. What do you bring? What do you yearn for? What will you practice? How will you grow?

Early discount registration ends 12/14. Housing options diminish after 12/29. The limit of participants is 20. Sign up now @ 503-854-3320


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The dance of Contact Improvisation is a way to evolve our nature and power to be connected and free for the mutual benefit of each and all.


to what is and

to what else is possible

in this soup which we concoct

by our being and our doings, in contact

improvising for the sake of our mutual well being


to the path of curiosity

guiding us to our deepest longing

of belonging and freedom existing together, forever

the Point of Contact is the Point of Contact

the point of contact is where connected and free co-create

to inform, support and fine tune what it means for all to thrive, here and now


Come, join others at The 9th annual WOW of Contact @ Breitenbush Hot Springs to immerse for 5 days in the mystery and the wonder of the nurturing, sustainable paradigm called Contact Improvisation.