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Olivia Proudfoot with Tim Spronk and Mika Lillit Lior

CM 2022, Toronto, Guelph, Malta EU     

Driving themes

  • need for equity within the contact community in relation to assumptions and opportunities to dance outside of gender roles

  • develop partnering roles not based on size-weight of the dancers


  • use contact dance

  • create a female-male duet

  • use narrative and comedy

Beginning with

  • skeleton of a story

  • audio track / voice-over

  • partnering skills

  • both have experience of contact jams, therefore share references

  • shared interest in partnering roles specifically in contact dance lifts/flying


  • to present a finished piece for performance in autumn 2022


  • to match current skills with demands of the story-telling

  • to recognize what skills-knowledge they have (not necessarily contact dance or dance at all) that can be applied to the creation process

  • creating a dance piece using 2 different performance modes that have very few inherent intersections (see “discoveries”)


  • What aspects of Contact dance assist the story-telling, what aspects cloud the story-telling?

  • What form of Comedic story-telling best intersects with contact dance? i.e. comedy that has the setup-the story-the punchline / movement that has the offering-accepting-follow flow-the arrival

  • Whose point-of-view is the story told from?

  • Do you need to complete each move? When they are used to flowing from one move into another, can they somehow continue the dance when the flow is broken?


  • A choreographer-dancer can sub-in another dancer in order to see from the outside what is going on in the dance as a whole.

  • Divide the story into simple sections (meet, first dance, etc...). Each section is distinct in action/dance and intention/drama, giving specific information that advances the story.

  • Practice comedic structures e.g. setup leads to punchline, then try this within each section.

  • Work without audio voice-over.

  • Play with actual speaking during dancing

  • Make eye contact at points within the piece. Eyes take us into character and intention.


  • Contact dance > flow, momentum (FM)

  • Comedy> timing. unusual occurrences, surprise (TUCS)

  • Comedy’s TUCS disrupts Contacts FM

  • Contact’s FM doesn’t allow for Comedy’s TUCS

  • A tight score assists hitting marks for story-telling


  • improved recognizing useable material (from improvisations)

  • learned to commit to a strict “score” in performance

  • learned to shift role of director in the process of co-creating the duet material

  • the duet material became a co-creation, each took turns at being the director

Questions from mentors

  • Might the issue you are working be more about Consent in general, rather than about male-big/female-small.

  • Might this free up your interactions and the development of the piece including its narrative aspects?

Discussion points

  • About Comedy, the syntax of the many different forms

  • How much of what we experience in dance (when dancing) goes unspoken yet is communicated, or is not communicated. (between performers, from performers to audience)

  • Re: Consent in contact dance improvisations- Given that contact dance is a form that inherently involves touch and close contact, what kinds of interactions are we/I willing to accept within the form? e.g. Do I have to give up this beautiful dance because I don’t want to be thrown around? and, if unacceptable, what do you/I do about it?

To practice

  • Stay longer in each section to know what is going on.

  • It may be useful to name what is going on – physical specifics (body parts doing exactly what?) and overall sensation (e.g. meditative or explorative or give-and-take or attack, etc.)

What next

  • Take discoveries into rehearsal to finish the work for perfromance in November 2022, produced by Raison d’Etre Productions.


consent, flow, momentum, surprise, timing, comedy


Olivia Proudfoot -   Toronto based teacher and performer of Contact Improvisation (CI). Olivia discovered CI in 2000 and fell in love with the form.  A multi-genre dance-aholic, Olivia has performed salsa, tango and breakdance, enjoying a slight advantage from her youth spent in gymnastics and ballet.  All of these inform her approach to partnering and movement narratives.  She is also certified in Kaeja Elevations. 

Tim Spronk began dancing at the School of Alberta Ballet in 1992. After completing a BFA at York university he danced independently in Toronto with many different choreographers and companies, including Arabesque (now Yasmina Ramzy Arts) Kaeja d’Dance, Corpus and Motus O. Tim currently co-facilitates Contact Improvisation jams and continues to dance and train in Martial Arts.

Mika Lillit Lior (online from Malta) is an interdisciplinary dance artist and scholar with a PhD in Culture and Performance from the University of California, Los Angeles (March 2021), Mika Lillit Lior is interested in how overlapping personal, spiritual and social processes can transform relations to ourselves and others across human and more than human worlds.  Her creative practice draws on dance storytelling, improvisation, multimedia collaboration, samba, capoeira and performance ethnography.


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