Contact improvisation in NYC

Regular Jams and Classes in New York City

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This page collects in one place information on all the ongoing New York City contact improvisation jams and classes, especially for out-of-town visitors who may only have a few days in town. My hope is that it is accurate, reliable, and recent — your first and only reference when you wonder, “is there a jam tonight in New York”?

This page does NOT contain short-term workshops, classes, or other events. If you would like to inform others of those  events, please post a comment. Events must be related to contact improvisation, and I’ll remove expired events. I’ve exercised my own judgment as to what is a contact improvisation jam or class; I have not included barefoot boogies, ecstatic dances, or similar events where people may or may not do contact improvisation.

While you are free to distribute the information below, please do not copy the descriptions without permission and attribution. They constitute my views and original work.

I started this page because although New York City has one of the biggest and most active contact improvisation scenes in the world, few people in New York (let alone visitors) seemed to know about everything that was going on. You had to do research and digging to find out about events, and if you have the goal that I do, that contact improvisation should be accessible to everyone, this seemed like a problem. If you find this page helpful, please spread the word and tell others about it.

On accessibility in a different sense: for those who may have various physical disabilities, I’ve added a section on the physical Accessibility of the various venues in NYC at the bottom of the page. If you have suggestions on how to improve this section, I would love to hear them.

Here’s what I know about as of Wednesday, April 9, 2014:

Every week:

Monday mornings: Class at Bill Young’s Studio, 100 Grand Street (between Mercer Street & Greene Street), 2nd floor (Buzzer B),  Manhattan (SoHo), NYC, 10am – 12 noon. $12. Info can also be found on the 100 Grand Dance Web site.  Bradley Ellis is teaching in April.

Monday evenings: Open Movement Jam at 100 Grand Dance (Bill Young’s Studio), 100 Grand Street (between Mercer Street & Greene Street), 2nd floor (Buzzer B),  Manhattan (SoHo), NYC, 8pm – 11pm (note slightly earlier time).  $5 to $8. Note new space and time. Starting June 3, 2013, the Open Movement Jam moved to Bill Young’s Studio indefinitely. This is billed as an open music and dance jam, but there has historically often been contact improvisation. Recently, however, the amount of contact improvisation has been low or unpredictable. There is an Open Movement NYC Facebook page that contains updates and some community postings.

Tuesday evenings: Jam at 100 Grand Dance (Bill Young’s Studio), 100 Grand Street (between Mercer Street & Greene Street), 2nd floor (Buzzer B),  Manhattan (SoHo), NYC, 7pm – 10pm. $5. Cozy, intimate jam with committed dancers — currently one of my favorites. Music is provided by what people bring on their MP3 players/mobile devices. The first hour is usually a little slow; don’t worry if not many people show up until 8pm. Formerly on Wednesday nights, this jam moved permanently to Tuesday nights starting April 2013. This replaced the Tuesday night “lab” or “working group.”

Wednesday evenings: Class at Eden’s Expressway, 537 Broadway (between Prince Street & Spring Street), 4th Floor, Manhattan (SoHo), NYC, 6pm – 8:30pm (note time and day change). $14 (discounts if you buy multiple classes in advance). Local teachers including Tim O’Donnell, K.J. Holmes, Charlie Mosey, and Margaret Paek, usually rotating on a monthly basis. Offered through Movement Research — more info on the Movement Research classes page.  I recommend that you show up around 10 minutes early to do registration, payment, and get yourself settled in. KJ Holmes is teaching in April.

Saturday afternoons: Jam at Eden’s Expressway, 537 Broadway (between Prince Street & Spring Street), 4th Floor, Manhattan (SoHo), NYC, 1:30pm – 4:30pm. $5. Silent (no music) jam, currently the biggest jam in NYC (in terms of numbers — not necessarily space!). Lots of dancerly dancers (as opposed to pure contact dancers) show up at this one. Also lots of out-of-towners from around the world. I sometimes find the space a little small, but it’s worth it to stop by this jam if you’re in town, especially since you never know who will show up. Don’t be too intimidated by the crowds of tourist shoppers on Saturday afternoon and the relatively unmarked entrance — the entrance really is there, just to the left of the Guess store (though the scaffolding has come down, so it looks different from what’s on Google Maps). Charlie Mosey runs this as well.

Second and fourth Sunday evenings: Underscore NYC at Eden’s Expressway (see above) from 5pm – 8pm. $5-$10, sliding scale. Underscore practice two times per month continuing through August 2014. The Underscore is hard to explain if you haven’t done it… it’s basically a slightly more structured group contact improvisation experience. It’s a good idea to join the Facebook group “Underscore NYC” if you’re interested in this. People who have not attended an Underscore talk-though before should get one before attending. These are usually at 3:30pm before the Underscore at Cafe Duke (545 Broadway), which is just north of Eden’s Expressway, but you should check the Facebook group and post a message if you’re looking for a talk-through, just in case one isn’t planned. Future Underscores are scheduled for April 13 and 27, and should be continuing on second and fourth Sundays. June 22 will be the Global Underscore, and will be 10am to 2pm instead of 5pm to 8pm. More information on the Underscore NYC Facebook page and the Movement Research classes page.

Accessibility

Unfortunately, none of our New York City contact venues are very accessible. This is something to work on.

Bill Young’s Studio (100 Grand Dance): poor. Bill Young’s Studio is up a step and up two flights of stairs through some fairly heavy doors, none of which are automatic. However, after the first step and two doors (and perhaps another step) there is an elevator. With some coordination with the organizers you can have the elevator car sent down and called up from the second floor.

Eden’s Expressway: poor. Eden’s Expressway is on a fourth-floor walk-up. There is very small service elevator directly inside the front door which I’m told can be sent down and called up from the fourth floor, and opens into an odd “closet” that’s used for changing inside Eden’s Expressway. However, I haven’t seen this work, and it may be too small for wheelchairs, particularly since the elevator doors on the fourth floor open at a right angle to those on the ground floor, with possibly not enough room to rotate. I’ll gather more information.

 

E-mail Lists, Facebook groups, etc.

  • Many but not all NY notices go to the “contactnyc” Yahoo group.
  • Edwin Adkins has a Yahoo group for the lab group and certain CI workshops that he sometimes organizes. I think he prefers to keep it slightly underground, so send me a note through the comment box below if you want more information.
  • The Monday night Open Movement Jam has a Facebook page.
  • The bi-monthly Underscore practice has a Facebook page, “Underscore NYC“.

For convenience

I’ve made several redirects to this page for easy-to-remember shorthand:

  • contactimprovblog.com/ny
  • contactimprovblog.com/nyc
  • contactimprovblog.com/nyci

21 Comments

  1. Erin
    Posted 2011/08/09 at 13:53 | Permalink

    My sister and I are dancers looking to get some basic contact skills. We are working on a show requiring us to use contact together to make up a dance in a short time. Could we come to the lab to get help or would it be too advanced? We have some basic partnering experience. What else do you suggest? Thanks so much! E

  2. richard
    Posted 2011/08/09 at 14:41 | Permalink

    Hi Erin. It depends what you want to get out of it. The lab is probably not too advanced for you to participate. Although I know someone new to contact who was once overwhelmed, it was her first time doing it ever, and she had little modern dance experience. I think generally the lab is welcoming and totally accepting of different skill levels, and I know that Edwin is interested in getting “new blood” attending.

    But the larger issue is, what is it that you’re looking to learn? In my experience, the lab tends to be fairly open-ended explorations, which may or may not be what you want/need. If there are specific physical skills you would like to learn, you may need instruction as opposed to suggestions and invitations to experiment for yourself. But if what you want is to explore different compositional or movement options, then maybe it’s exactly what you want.

    I’ll e-mail separately with Edwin’s (who runs the lab) e-mail address, and you can get it touch with him directly about it.

    Another possibility is going to Kayoko’s class on Friday. Her classes tend to be small, and she might be able to really cater to what you need to work on — at least my friend had an experience like that. I’ll send you her e-mail as well.

    Feel free to e-mail me or comment here as well.

  3. Erin
    Posted 2011/08/09 at 18:30 | Permalink

    Thanks. We re going to check it out tonight. :)

  4. Leo
    Posted 2011/08/15 at 19:48 | Permalink

    Thank for this blog Richard. I was just looking for some CI activity in NY during this week. Then collecting info on various sites trying to understand if they where right and in a while discovering your website clouds part! :-)
    A CI visitor from italy

  5. richard
    Posted 2011/08/15 at 19:54 | Permalink

    Thanks! Obviously, that was exactly my intent! I’m happy to know that this page is useful. Please pass it on to other visitors.

  6. Paige
    Posted 2012/02/06 at 11:17 | Permalink

    THANK YOU SO MUCH RICHARD!! this is such a wonderful resource and will really help me navigate the dancing world in this big apple. Hope to meet you on the floor soon…

  7. Nicole
    Posted 2012/02/06 at 15:19 | Permalink

    Richard, thank you for centralizing this sometimes elusive information. Kudos!

  8. Posted 2012/02/20 at 10:16 | Permalink

    Thank you for all your encouragement this weekend, Richard. You made a big dent in my life!!!

    Pat

  9. richard
    Posted 2012/02/28 at 06:03 | Permalink

    No problem, Pat. I’m happy to help.

  10. Nabi
    Posted 2012/04/08 at 21:11 | Permalink

    thanks Richard for your comprehensive guide to CI in the CIty!

  11. Lucie
    Posted 2012/08/31 at 19:10 | Permalink

    Hello Richard,

    I am french and I just arrive in New York.
    \Can you say me if this saturday and sunday there is something like a jam or a workshop?

    Thank you

    Lucie

  12. richard
    Posted 2012/09/01 at 00:13 | Permalink

    Allo Lucie. Bienvenue!

    The regular Saturday jam is listed above. It’s 1330 to 1730, at Eden’s Expressway, at 537 Broadway, on the 4th Floor. I think you need to press some keys when you get to the front door to get in — I think you press “4″ then a green arrow.

    I am not completely sure the jam is taking place, but usually the jam is never cancelled. I think it is worth it to go. If it is happening, there will probably be lots of different people there from around the country, since this is a U.S. holiday weekend.

    Have fun. Let me know if you have another questions.

  13. Posted 2012/09/24 at 11:09 | Permalink

    Hi Richard,

    I could’nt attend the NY JAM (apparently FULL…) :(…

    But There is an AMAZING, incredibly accessible event coming up in EASTMAN QC, DeeDee Maucher is also considering coming from NY…:

    A residential (3-day-Workshops, room and board, All included for only 150$can)
    With CI, Biodanza, BMC, SRT, Live Musicians (Peter Jack Rainbird, Etienne Bovo, EveMarie Roy, Alex Trifan) in a gorgeous Country side Dance retreat…

    Please Come, and pass-on the info to make it accessible to the NY Dance Community…

    http://pierremathieu.net/eastman
    1-877-9698907

  14. Posted 2012/10/16 at 22:54 | Permalink

    Richard!

    Where would you look/who would you contact for current info on CI in the SF Bay Area?

    Thanks,
    Mark

  15. richard
    Posted 2012/10/16 at 23:03 | Permalink

    You mean other than contactimprov.net? Ah, very good question. This site (http://nono.artsomatic.org/jams/) is a little new, but seems to be fairly accurate, tracking CI events in the Bay Area similarly to how I do in NYC. For Tuesday nights, I’d double-check on the CounterPULSE Web site. And if you really want to be sure, subscribe to the SF Yahoo group and send an e-mail.

  16. Posted 2012/11/01 at 20:12 | Permalink

    Hi,

    Is it possible to find another place for the jam saturday afternoon…maybe it is not possible in eden express, but the paradise is everywhere, specially after this hurricane…Maybe a place in Brooklyn?
    I took a bottle of red wine from France, and I would like to propose a little french moment after the jam, cheese, bred and wine…It is my last saturday in NY before another come back -maybe-. See you soon. Lucie

  17. Posted 2012/11/08 at 23:28 | Permalink

    Hi Richard,
    I just moved to New York. I love dancing, but my skills are not profesional, which action would you recommend to me, please? Is there also possibility to come up just to watch and admire?

    Thank you,
    Radka

  18. richard
    Posted 2012/11/08 at 23:33 | Permalink

    Hi Radka. Have you done any contact improvisation before? Are you interested in more contact improvisation, or just dancing?

    If you just want to dance, I’d recommend showing up to the Monday Open Movement Jam, which is less contact improvisation and more just people moving around. There’s also music there often, which can be helpful for people who aren’t used to dancing in silence.

    If you’re interested in doing more contact improvisation, I’d also recommend checking out the Sunday classes this month, taught by Shakti Smith. I haven’t taken class from Shakti yet, but I know her to be thoughtful and thorough. She doesn’t come from a trained dance background, and so I think may be more understanding of newer dancers than some of the NY contact teachers.

    Does that answer your question?

  19. Posted 2012/11/09 at 11:55 | Permalink

    Yes it does. I wil check it out next week.
    Thank you a lot Richard!!
    Radka

  20. Mwanzaa
    Posted 2012/11/29 at 15:12 | Permalink

    What’s the word on bringing casual visitors to contact jams? I have a friend who is visiting this weekend who is interested in contact but might not be interested in joining in on his first time really seeing contact. I imagine that people wouldn’t balk at his presence on the sidelines at the Saturday jam, but I can also imagine that some might be confused or put off by an non-participating body in the space. What’s the protocol for casual observers of contact? Thanks.

  21. richard
    Posted 2012/11/29 at 15:36 | Permalink

    Great question. I think at most jams I’ve been to, dancers are pretty familiar with this phenomenon of friends who come and “just want to see.” I don’t think there’s any reason to think that people will be confused or offended.

    On the other hand, I’d have some advice for your friend. First: even if you’re coming just to watch, just come dressed to dance. Just in case. I’ve seen many, *many* situations where someone who came just to watch ended up not only getting pulled on to the dance floor, but having a fairly transformative life experience. Second: be prepared to be asked to dance, or led on to the dance floor. Possibly less so at the NYC Saturday jam, where participants are a bit less curious about newcomers. But if you really want just to watch, be prepared to say no clearly but politely. Third: if you are pulled on to the dance floor, you are responsible for yourself! Rarely does someone get hurt in this situation, but totally new people can occasionally get lost in the exhilaration of the experience and not realize that they’re doing movements that are quite risky, and lack the skill to protect themselves. Go slow, take it easy, resist being picked up, and don’t do anything you don’t feel physically comfortable with. There’s plenty of time for risk later. You can always ask for the dance to be different, or for the dance to stop. Actually, it’s your obligation to do so if necessary.

    Finally, if not asked to dance, often newcomers get so intimidated or confused by the jam space that they sort of get paralyzed, sitting around in one place self-consciously and looking around. There’s lots I could say about this, but for now, I’ll just give this advice: just get up and walk around the space every now and then. Try not to step on or over anyone, but otherwise, it can’t hurt. Something surprising may happen to you by the time you sit back down again. (Or not.)

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