Dance, martial arts and extemporization – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Dance, martial arts and extemporization

Dance, martial arts and extemporization are only some of the elements that comprise Contact Improvisation, a form of dance with no set steps or strict formal techniques.

Internationally renowned dance instructor Martin Keogh will be on campus through Thursday, Sept. 6 guest teaching Contact Improvisation to students in Professor Cynthia Williams’ first-year seminar and Introduction to Dance class, as well as a master class on Wednesday evening that will be open to the public. His presence on campus is partially funded by a grant from the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Keogh attended Interlochen Arts Academy and Stanford University, taught and performed Contact Improvisation for nearly 30 years, and is a founder of The Dancing Ground, an organization that holds conferences on gender, race and mythology. Keogh has taught in 22 countries and has worked as an instructor and consultant for Touchdown Dance USA, which teaches dance improvisation to the blind.

Contact Improvisation, created in 1972 by Steve Paxton, is an improvisational style of dance generally practiced in a duet in which the partners “listen to each other’s bodies and move reflexively with each other, finding an equilibrium between themselves through the dance.

“It’s like having two puzzle pieces and trying to find how they best fit and work together, Keogh told students in Williams’ first-year seminar, Fields of Play: Improvisation in Life and Art, on Tuesday.

Contact improvisation has been paralleled with jazz as a truly original American art, full of surprise and discovery. And as this source of discovery, it is an invaluable and vast resource for choreography and is continually opening new possibilities.

As Keogh explained to students in the seminar: “Let your curiosity guide you.

Wednesday night’s open class is available to HWS students and faculty at no charge and to the public for $10. The class, sponsored by the HWS Dance Department, will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Winn-Seeley Dance Studio. Those planning to attend should wear loose-fitting clothing and be prepared to improvise.