Contact Dance International Film Festival
The Contact Dance International Film Festival celebrates films featuring momentum-based dance by creators and dancers in the field of Contact Improvisation and related dance forms that are also momentum, touch, or relationally based. " It provides a unique opportunity for both film and dance lovers to experience the joy, chaos and intimacy of human connection through physical movement. The Festival is presenting its fifth season June 4 to 13, 2021 through Eventive Online Platform.

What is Contact Improvisation?
Contact Improvisation is a style of dance that cannot always be as clearly defined as something like ballet or ballroom dance. Yet the ambiguity and adaptability of the form may be its greatest attribute. Kathleen Rea, the artistic director of this festival will attempt an explanation here knowing that it will, of course, fall short. 

Kathleen describes:
"Contact Improvisation is a social dance involving touch, in which momentum between two or more people is used to create and inspire dance movements. Contact improvisation evolved from the exploration of a group of dancers in the early 1970's, including Steve Paxton, Nancy Stark Smith, Danny Lepkoff, Lisa Nelson, Karen Nelson, Nita Little, Andrew Harwood, and Ray Chung. Steve Paxton brought his former training in Aikido to the form, using the idea of "surfing" momentum to communicate, dance, and express. Dancers move and "stay-with" a constantly changing physical reality. In Contact Improvisation there are no set leaders and followers as in other social dance forms. Instead of having these roles set, the role of the dancer shifts from one to the other, sometimes leading, sometimes following, and all the variations in between these two roles. The form requires deep “listening” and responding "in the moment" to one’s partner. The dance form is practiced with or without music. Techniques include rolling point of contact, balancing over a partner's centre of gravity, and "listening" with one's skin surface. While there is technique involved in the form, the aesthetic I reach for is the quality of the relationship within a dance.

The form is potentially accessible to all people, including those with no previous dance training and people with physical disabilities. I say potentially because "-isms" such as racism and ableism historically have reduced or inhibited access. The -isms are embedded in the culture in which Contact Improvisation is practiced, and as such they can't help but be acted out in Contact Improvisation communities. Another limit to access is the lack of consent culture in Contact Improvisation communities, both on the dance floor and off. Since the "me-too" movement there has been a growing understanding of the value of building and supporting consent culture in Contact Improvisation as well as some backlash against this movement.

Contact Improvisation is typically practiced in a jam situation in which a group of people gathers in-person to improvise together. This past year, contact improvisers worldwide have experienced a loss of touch in their dance lives due to COVID pandemic lockdowns. During this time, solo or non-touch practices have been for many the only way to practice Contact Improvisation. A solo Contact Improvisation practice involves using all the above relational skills in a relationship with oneself and one's environment. A non-touch practice involves using all the above relational skills at a distance and can involve using props such as ropes and poles through which momentum can be communicated. Contact improvisers are currently exploring adaptations including dancing together virtually online or outdoors as well as expanded solo and no-touch practices. Others have already returned to group in-person jams in some countries. The pause or shift in the practice of Contact Improvisation created by the pandemic has been seen by some dancers as an opportunity to illuminate and address inequities that are part of the practice.

This definition of Contact Improvisation is my personal feeling of what Contact Improvisation is to me. Others will describe it differently, and this variance and diversity of opinions is for me one of the joys of Contact Improvisation." - Kathleen Rea

REAson d'etre dance productions (producer of CDIFF)
REAson d'etre dance productions is a charitable dance company that teaches and inspires the public about contact dance improvisation and dance/theatre through the creation and production of classes, workshops, jams, films, performances and festivals that use contact dance improvisation, vocalization, text and physical theatre to express the human condition. The company also strives to bring contact dance improvisation to people of all ages and training levels and to ensure the accessibility of the dance arts to the public through inclusive programing and scholarship programs. We strive to provide programing that enables the public to benefit from the enlivening powers of expression through movement. REAson d'etre dance productions founded and produces the Contact Dance International Film Festival which had its inaugural debut in Spring of 2013 and is produced every second year going forwards.

The Team

Kathleen Rea - Festival Director
Kathleen danced with Ballet Jörgen Canada, National Ballet of Canada & Tiroler Landestheater (Austria). Kathleen is a certified instructor of the Melt Method (Hand and Feet) and teaches Contact Dance Improvisation at George Brown Dance. She has choreographed over 40 dance works and been nominated for five DORA awards. Her film Lapinthrope, co-produced with Alec Kinnear won Gold Award at the Festival Der Nationen (Austria). Kathleen is also a recipient of a K. M. Hunter Choreographic Award and is a published author (“The Healing Dance”, Charles C. Thomas). She has a Master’s in Expressive Arts Therapy and is a Registered Psychotherapist (CRPO) with a private practice for the past 15 years. In January 2015 Kathleen became a candidate teacher of the Axis Syllabus. She is the director of REAson d’etre dance productions which produces both the Wednesday Dance Jam and the Contact Dance International Film Festival.

Olya Glotka - Assistant Director
Olya is a filmmaker, a storyteller and a dancer. She is exactly who she wanted to be as a 5, 15 and 25 years old. A dreamer, inspiration and a change-maker

Article about the Inaugural 2013 CDIFF
Article about the 2013 Contact Dance International Film Festival
Contact Quarterly Newsletter, 2014 Vol. 39.2

Short Contact Improvisation Documentary filmed at CDIFF 2015
Plonger dans la danse contact improvisation
Broadcast on TFO Canada on the program 24.7