According to ContactQuarterly.com,"Contact Improvisation (CI) was first presented as a series of performances conceived and directed by American choreographer Steve Paxton in June 1972 at the John Weber Gallery in New York City. Paxton invited about 17 students and colleagues to participate in the two-week project. These dancers included Tim Butler, Laura Chapman, Barbara Dilley, Leon Felder, Mary Fulkerson, Tom Hast, Daniel Lepkoff, Nita Little, Alice Lusterman, Mark Peterson, Curt Siddall, Emily Siege, Nancy Stark Smith, Nancy Topf, and David Woodberry. Several of them continue to practice the dance form today. Video of these initial performances can be seen in two documentaries narrated by Paxton, Chute (1979) and Fall After Newton (1987), produced by Videoda "
It was first presented as performance and research by those in the initial project. Then they began to share and teach it with others. It spread From the East Coast to the West Coast of America via studios, schools, and art centers and then the work spread around the world. Thousands of people practice, perform, and teach Contact on all continents except Antarctica. "CI is enjoyed by movers of all kinds—professionally trained dancers, recreational movers, athletes, disabled dancers, old, young. Dancers apply their work with CI to choreography, to dance training, to working with children, seniors, disabled populations, therapy, visual art, music, education, environmental work, and social activism. Many do it just for pleasure and personal development.
Contact Improvisation's influence can be seen throughout modern and postmodern dance choreography, performance, and dance training worldwide, especially in relationship to partnering and use of weight.
Contact Improvisation celebrated its 36th birthday in June 2008 with a large gathering at Juniata College in central Pennsylvania. CI36 (co-hosted by Contact Quarterly dance journal and Juniata College) was linked to over a hundred "satellite events" celebrating Contact all over the world, including Australia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Japan, China, Russia, Siberia, and throughout Europe, the U.S., and Canada.
Contact Improvisation continues to develop and spread to new cities, countries, types of dancers, and areas of application. The work embraces those new to the form as well as those who have been devoted to its study and practice for decades." (contactquarterly.com)
Mary Fulkerson introduced Contact Improvisation to the UK, when she was appointed as Head of Dance at Dartington College of the Arts in Devon in 1973. Her improvised and non-technique-based movement has directly or indirectly influenced choreographers, such as Rosemary Butcher, Sue MacLennan, Richard Alston and Yolande Snaith. (more to come about the UK history soon..)
"While the form may be rooted in modern dance, it is also a reaction against it and has been influenced by social dance and martial arts, such as Aikido and Tai chi. It continues to be influenced by movement practices and theories such as: Body Mind Centering, Skinner Release, Laban Movement Analysis, Alexander Technique, Shiatsu, Yoga, Feldenkrais Method and other somatic practices. For an in depth historical and cultural analysis see: Novack, C, J. (1990) Sharing the Dance: Contact Improvisation and American Culture. University of Wisconsin Press.
In the Uk and Europe an entire subculture of festivals has evolved from the desire to gather and practice the form intesively. They were based on the Brietenbush Jam and now there are festivals and week-long jams all over Europe, in Israel, India and Australia.
Contact Improvisation as a dance form is now practiced by thousands of ordinary people as well as professional dancers, performers and movers. In most major urban cities you can find classes and a jam. It is also taught in many universities as part of training for people doing a degree or professional studies in dance or theatre.