Chris Aiken is a dance artist and teacher whose work focuses on the intersection between contact improvisation and performance-based dance improvisation.  His approach brings together the development of physical intelligence with the poetic imagination. He draws on years of dance, somatic and physical training including, contact improvisation, ideokinesis, the Alexander Technique, Gryotonic/Gyrokinesis, and myofascial bodywork. He has toured throughout North America, Europe and Asia over the past four decades and has worked with many seminal figures in CI and dance improvisation including Nancy Stark Smith, Steve Paxton, Kirstie Simson, Andrew Harwood, Peter Bingham, Ray Chung, Ming Shen Ku, and Angie Hauser.

Aiken has received numerous awards for his artistic work, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Bush Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation as well as commissions from the National Performance Network, the Jerome Foundation, DanceLink, the Walker Art Center, Dance Theater Workshop and by many colleges and universities in the US.  He has been presented by the Asian i-dance festivals in Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Dance Theater Workshop, the NY Improvisation Festival, the Bates Dance Festival, the Freiburg Contact Festival, the Florida Dance Festival, the Seattle Festival of Dance and Improvisation, and Impulstanz Festival in Vienna. Chris is a professor and the chair of the dance department at Smith College in Northampton.

Contact Improvisation Festival - Intensive

The Tuning Effect

Our aim in this workshop is to develop the focused, playful attention that leads to inspired dancing.  We will begin with the idea that physical learning and intelligence are available to anyone willing to engage in mindful practice.  Contact improvisation creates many opportunities for developing sensitivity and movement skill through the language of touch, movement, and shared support.  Participants will be presented with specific exercises designed to develop the skills of mobile support, changing levels, functional pathways, and alignment.  We will develop the syntax of touch, tone, and physical resistance as a vehicle for becoming ready to move, creating safe boundaries, and developing creative movement possibilities.  We will consider how the dancing unfolds when our emphasis is on following one another, causing it only a little.

A throughline of our practice will include subtle questioning of the assumptions we hold about CI.  We will consider how we can grow ourselves and the form to discover new possibilities for being together that are playful, respectful, and inclusive.

Contact Improvisation into Performance - 16 hours

Causing it Only a Little: An Approach to CI and Performance

In this workshop we will explore the potential of contact improvisation to be practiced within a performance context. We will consider strategies for expanding our awareness to enjoy the possibilities of tuning to the kinetic melody of weight, flow, suspension and image. We will seek dances that invite the relational potential of allowing ourselves to be witnessed and engaged with by others and the space itself. We will explore how to weave together resonance and action as we explore and shape our experience. We will consider how to allow the dance to happen, causing it only a little.

Italy Contact Fest