© Daniel Harwood-Farkas

Andrew De Lotbinière Harwood — Compositional awareness in contact improvisation

Dec. 4th to 8th, 2023 – 9:30 am to 12:30 pm (Mon.-Fri.)
Full week rate : $85
Drop-in class rate : N/A

Language of instruction : English and French
Questions can also be asked in : French and English
Open to artists of all disciplines with some basic experience in contact improvisation



The mask could be mandatory for some activities as an accessibility measure for our teachers or participants. For more information, click here.


As we ground ourselves in the core principles of CI, focusing on the dynamics and subtleties of touch, tone, texture, weight, momentum, and moving support, we will expand our awareness to include space, time, image, gesture and feeling, through solo, duet, trio and ensemble dancing.  We will consider how a lightly held compositional awareness and feeling can support our efforts to connect and find meaning when we are dancing.  The workshop will involve specific improvisation investigations, perceptual tunings, principles of design and scores aimed at integrating CI within a greater creative universe. We will seek a quality of attention that shifts from self to other, to the environment and the ever-changing atmospheres in the room and the world at large, and back, to engage with innovative possibilities for individual and collective improvisation.  This work can be viewed not only as a means for creative expression but as a process for developing our capacity to collaborate and build a community that holds space for each individual. 

In essence this course accentuates physical contact involving an exchange of weight in partnership with one or many other people where all parts of the body will be solicited. This course will be demanding for people with reduced mobility, who will find it challenging and may encounter some difficulty. Prior experience in CI is essential to attend this workshop.

We will begin the workshop with an introduction of each person (including pronouns) and a discussion on consent. At the beginning of each class, we will gather to discuss the menu of the day which will be followed by a period of personal awareness and a guided warm-up related to the particular focus of the day. The sessions will end with a period of relaxation and release followed by a closing circle where we will converse and share our discoveries and our challenges.

My wish for this time together is to create a vibrant, inclusive, and safe container for the practice of contact improvisation. For me this means thinking of others and the spaces we inhabit as important and worthy of consideration, creating an environment that is respectful and caring, approaching consent as an ongoing and active practice which in turn generates conscious intention, and action. I am a CIS male teacher who will listen, observe and offer what I have learned from decades of experience. I do not have all the answers, but will strive to create an intentional space that aims to promote inclusivity and respect throughout our shared time together.

Andrew de Lotbinière Harwood is renowned as a leading light in the field of dance improvisation. He is an internationally recognized pioneer of contact improvisation (CI) and a master teacher/performer in both real-time composition and CI. For over forty-seven years he has dedicated himself to the research, development, education, collaboration and dissemination of these rigorous artistic practices as sophisticated movement disciplines and performing art forms. He began his dance career quite unexpectedly at the age of 23 in 1975 and knew very early on that he had found his calling in life, which was to immerse himself in the practice of dance improvisation. He first studied and then performed with (among many others) Steve Paxton, Nancy Stark Smith, Nita Little, Kurt Siddal and Daniel Lepkoff, the original developers of Contact Improvisation. He subsequently danced for the companies of Marie Chouinard, Jean-Pierre Perreault, Jo Lechay, Joint Forces and Fulcrum, as well as the improvisational dance collectives Discovery Bal, The Echo Case and The Improvisational Movement Fund. Formerly founder and artistic director of AH HA Productions (2000–2014) his work has evolved through ongoing artistic associations with many renowned artists such as Chris Aiken, Ray Chung, Peter Bingham, Marc Boivin, Lin Snelling, Benoît Lachambre, Kirstie Simson, Julyen Hamilton, Lisa Nelson, K.J. Holmes, Alito Alessi, Karen Nelson, and Benno Voorham, to name a few. His journey has continued to evolve through the development of consciousness and various investigations of perceptual awareness, a keen interest in spatial design, as well as an abundance of collaborative performances around the globe.  

Here in Montreal, Andrew has been a guest teacher with the world-renowned companies of Marie Chouinard, O’ Vertigo Danse, Le Cirque du Soleil, Les Sept Doigts de la Main, and Toronto’s Dance Makers. He has also shared his enthusiasm and knowledge with hundreds of students at l’École de Danse Contemporaine de Montréal, Concordia University, l’Université du Québec à Montréal and The National Theater School of Canada. Still passionate about teaching, he transforms his training into a personal language, which he has shared throughout the world since 1977. Andrew was awarded the Canada Council of the Arts Jacqueline Lemieux Award in 2000.

Andrew De Lotbinière Harwood — Compositional awareness in contact improvisation