Contact Improvisation Summer Camp 2020

Elements of Contact

Aug. 31 – Sept. 11, Burlington, Vermont

I. Materials, Aug. 31 – Sept. 5

II. Alchemy, Sept. 6 – Sept. 11

Immediately followed by the Burlington Annual Jam

w/ Carly Czach, Daniel Bear Davis, Jonathan Lilly, and Kyle Syverson

Contact Improvisation Summer Camp 2020

Elements of Contact

August 31 – Sept. 11, Burlington, Vermont

This two-week intensive is intended for dancers seeking a deep immersion in the study and practice of contact improvisation within a structured learning environment. For two weeks we will train and explore, with creativity and rigor, while sleeping under the stars beside the beautiful Lake Champlain.

This class-focussed intensive, with four hours of instruction per day on each of eight full days of training, offers offers a unique opportunity to propel our dancing to a new level. Another twenty-eight hours of jam time over the two weeks offer a wide-open horizon for exploration, assimilation, and play.

In an innovative format, four different teachers, with four very different backgrounds, will take turns interweaving their personal visions of contact improvisation. These “elements” of our rich and multifaceted dance form will cross-pollinate, co-inspire, and combine into an alchemy of learning.

Carly Czach — contemporary dance, yoga, anatomy, poetry
The Ocean and the Waves: surfing anatomy, energy, and the universe

Daniel Bear Davis — The Axis Syllabus, bodywork, performance, composition
Contact and the Axis Syllabus: researching safe, intelligent, dynamic movement

Jonathan Lilly — aikido, Feldenkrais, meditation, physics
Meeting and Metamorphosis: encountering others, transforming our bodies

Kyle Syverson — gymnastics, tree climbing, tango, improvisation
Tree Cat Body: releasing in any orientation, activating with gravity

The intensive is in two halves, which can be done separately or together. In each half there will be four full days of classes and jamming, together with an opening and closing jam on the first and last days.

Week I. Materials, Aug. 31 – Sept. 5
Week II. Alchemy, Sept. 6 – Sept. 11

The first half is suitable for all dancers with prior experience with contact. The second half is intended for dancers at an intermediate level and higher, with at least two years of experience, or those who have attended the first half.

The intensive is timed to dovetail with the Burlington Annual Jam, which begins the evening of Friday, September 11. Stay for the weekend and make it a full 13 days of dancing.


Carly Czach

Carly Czach is a movement facilitator and researcher dedicated to exploring awareness, communication, and the joy of inhabiting our dynamic bodies. A dancer from a young age with many years of intensive training in ballet and post-modern dance forms, Carly discovered the joys of Contact Improvisation and has been passionately researching for over 10 years. Her classes focus on cultivating strength and efficiency, while accessing freedom in each moment. She lives and teaches Contact Improvisation, yoga, and meditation in NYC, and has been privileged to teach across New England, as well as overseas.

[Photo by Clemencia Medina]

Daniel Bear Davis

Daniel Bear Davis is an interdisciplinary performance maker, movement educator, nationally certified massage therapist, and Somatic Experiencing® post-graduate. He has taught Axis Syllabus, Contact Improvisation, and improvisational composition for over a decade in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and throughout North America. Whether teaching physical skills or compositional practices, his intention is to foster informed choice and increased possibility through cultivated curiosity and exploration. Daniel has been blessed with numerous opportunities to perform nationally and internationally with many other inspiring body/minds.

[Photo by Anna Maynard]

Jonathan Lilly

Jonathan Lilly came to contact improvisation seven years ago, after twenty years of training in aikido, a martial art that can be said to be a direct ancestor of this dance form. His movement and teaching styles are deeply informed by his experience with the Feldenkrais method of somatic education, as well as by a daily meditation practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. In addition to thousands of hours of experience teaching aikido, he has taught workshops or classes in contact improvisation at a half-dozen locations in the US, Canada, and Europe, and has performed improvisational dance as a part of JKLM Studio. In his day job, he is a scientist studying ocean physics.

[Photo with Frances Idlebrook by Homer Horowitz]

Kyle Syverson

Kyle Syverson is a student, teacher, performer, choreographer, and fanatic of dance based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Early ballet and gymnastics training led her to the monkey bars, the trees, and thankfully, into the amazing realms of contact improvisation where she has been blessed with many fine teachers. Kyle has taught contact for over 10 years in Saskatoon, and also on Lasqueti Island. She also teaches somatic ballet and improvisation. Kyle creates and performs with KSAMB Dance Company. They perform contact-based, site-specific dance theatre throughout Saskatchewan, including outdoors in Saskatoon’s exotic -35°C weather!

[Photo with Jonathan Lilly by Bobby Hunter]

The Elements

The Ocean and the Waves

with Carly Czach

This workshop draws upon experiential anatomy, yogic philosophy, natural poetry, and CI principles to evoke a world of unbound potential and curiosity for our dancing. Functional anatomical principles that emphasize clarity, momentum, and release build the kinesthetic awareness necessary for the dancing that follows. From here, we will turn up our listening to track and surf the pulsations and layers of dynamic movement qualities that each dance has to offer, revealing new aspects of who we are, moment to moment.

Inviting our partners into our currents and joining others’ waves of motion, we rise and fall, spiral, swirl, invert, and dive into the dancing, reaching fully into a sense of freedom. In sensing ourselves inside the whole and how the whole (of the dancing room, of humanity) influences our perceptions and actions, we will explore: what we can experience through layers and gradations of touch in our encounters; how our listening can bring about a sense of curiosity, commitment, and joy; how our collaborative encounters open us to the unknown; and how the quality of our presence vibrates and shapes our dancing.

Contact and the Axis Syllabus

with Daniel Bear Davis

In this workshop we will look at details of our own anatomy, refined over thousands of years of evolution, to gain clues about how to move in collaboration with our own fascinating design. By looking to this design, we can gain clues for getting the most dynamic possibility while reducing our risk of injury. The intention is to encourage healthy patterns that support choice and longevity of the body’s tissues while increasing aptitude to harness and play with momentum and offer resilient support.

Sequential movement training encourages dynamic alignment and ready response to the countless unknowns of a contact dance. Bringing our findings into collaboration with other bodies allows us to increase response-ability within the dance inviting more informed risks and skillful and specific physical interventions.

Some topics of the workshop will include: chronological architecture / sequential movement; counter-rotation; connection throught the fascia; centrifugal lifts; hip axis arc; and more.

Meeting and Metamorphosis

with Jonathan Lilly

The art form of contact improvisation opens windows to profound explorations of both external and internal dimensions. At a fundamental level the exterior aspect of contact improvisation is about encountering another being, with whom we may share weight, imaginary worlds, or subtle energetic connections. In this workshop we will explore what it means to meet another person in a simple yet meaningful way, by honing our skills of listening, acceptance, and responsiveness through the body and mind.

Turning our attention inward, we have the opportunity to meet, also, ourselves. Contact improvisation can become a rich laboratory for shining a light on habitual tensions and inefficiencies in our movement patterns. Investigating these shows us places where growth and learning can occur. We explore how we can open up to the stream of information washing over us, receive feedback from our own bodies, and evolve. Preparing for change involves intentionally training the muscles in sound and efficient pathways, learning techniques for physical and emotional self-care, as well as engaging an invaluable facility, our own creative curiosity.

Tree Cat Body

with Kyle Syverson

Contact Improvisation in its most generously human, compassionate, athletic, fun, and honest expression is what I aspire to. We learn by dancing with all kinds of dancers, but it starts with listening, to our own bodies, our own sensation. Tree cat body starts with tuning: to nature and to ourselves, to the subtle stuff we block in order to survive this busy world. Slowing down with sublime attention, we invite release and re-activate our deep roots, feel gravity through all our pores. With practice, we can feel our connection to the ground, to the centre of the earth, no matter what our orientation. Upside down, inside out, sideways: if I can feel the pull and orientation of the earth, I can be more comfortable flying and falling. Dancing with a partner, or many, then can be lighter, safer, deeper.

Practicing the subtle and slow is not only delicious, but allows us to leap into the bold, big, and fast if we choose. Like cats, we can use a combination of crescent and spiral to orient and reorient ourselves; our head/tail relation is essential. Like cats, we can be lithe and light, luxuriously liquid and lazy, and fierce! Be ready to sense and move, that is, to dance, outdoors.


The Dance Studio

Our dancing will be on this beautiful 1600+ square foot wooden floor on the light-filled second story of a historic 1905 building: The Champlain Club, 20 Crowley St., Burlington, Vermont.


Camping at a large group site at the nearby North Beach Campground is included in the cost.  The site is steps away from the warm waters of Lake Champlain, and about a 15 minute walk from the dance studio.

You are also welcome to arrange your own accommodations elsewhere.

[Photo of our campsite last year by Jacki Dickert]


Day-by-Day Schedule

Arrival Day | Monday, Aug. 31
7 PM | Opening circle, 8–10 PM | Jam

Full Days | Tuesday, Sept. 1 – Friday, Sept. 4

Transition Day | Saturday, Sept. 5
10 AM–1 PM | Underscore, 1 PM | Circle
Depart, rest, or arrive

Rest & Arrival Day | Sunday, Sept. 6
Daytime hike or river swim
7 PM | Opening circle, 8–10 PM | Jam

Full Days | Monday, Sept. 7 – Thursday, Sept. 10

Final Day | Friday, Sept. 11
9 AM–10 AM Jam, 10 AM | Closing circle
11 AM–1PM | Group clean, snacks, goodbyes

The Burlington Annual Jam begins Friday evening.

Full Day Schedule*

9–10 AM | Meditation / open space
10–11 AM | Class
11–11:15 AM | Morning circle
11:15 AM–12:15 PM | Class
12:15–12:45 PM | Jam
12:45–1:15 PM | Lunch
2–4 PM | Class
6–7 PM | Dinner
8–10 PM | Jam**

*Tuesdays afternoons are slightly different
4–5:30 PM | Jam
6–7 PM | Dinner
Free evening

**Thursday nights, the jam will be a field trip to Dance Tribe ecstatic dance. Friday Sept. 6th, the jam will be open to the community.

Schedule is tentative and subject to change.


Camping. A large group site at North Beach Campground is reserved for participants in this retreat. There are a number of picnic tables and benches for our use at the group site. The campground has free hot showers.

Participants are responsible for their own camping gear. We have a limited capacity to arrange for loaner gear; please indicate your needs when you register. A wide selection of camping and outdoors-related supplies can be found at the Outdoor Gear Exchange in downtown Burlington.

Food. Delcious, mostly plant-based lunches and dinners prepared by our experieced kitchen team are included. Meals are served on the Full Days, and lunchtime snacks on the Transition Day and Final Day; no meals are served on the Arrival Days. Breakfasts are not included, however, and you may also wish to bring some of your own snacks.

Light breakfasts (pastries, chia seed porridge, muesli, waffles) are available at Scout & Co., a cafe located a two minute walk from the studio. A great place to buy food is the City Market Coop in downtown Burlington, about a mile from the dance studio. A large refrigerator is available for our use at the studio. A large communal cooler will be provided at the campground, though more are always welcome.

Wifi. The campground has wifi, as does Scout & Co.

Transportation. It is not necessary to have a car with you. You can walk between the studio and campground in about 15–20 minutes. Generally some people drive back and forth, so it's easy to grab a ride with a friend, too.

Getting here. Burlington is located in northern Vermont about a three-hour drive from Boston or Northampton, and about a two-hour drive south from Montreal. There are regular bus connections to major nearby cities. Coming from further away, you can fly directly into the Burlington International Airport from about a dozen other cities. The airport is just outside of town, about a 20 minute cab ride from the campground.

The Burlington Jam. The Burlington Annual Jam is one of New England's preeminant weekend jams, famous for its traditional Urban Dance Walk through the streets of downtown Burlington. This year it will be our grand finale. Summer Camp has been timed to dovetail with the annual jam, which will run Friday Sept. 11th through Sunday the 13th. Summer camp participants can continue staying at our group campground site for $10 / night for Friday and Saturday nights, checking out the morning of Sunday the 13th.

A note. Please understand that the intensive is a full-time activity. It is not realistic to plan to keep up with work at the same time, so kindly arrange for the necessary space in your life ahead of time.

Questions? Email the organizer, Jonathan Lilly, at


These are early bird rates for registrations before June 15. After June 15, half-time and full-time rates increase by $50 and $100, respectively.

Full Intensive
Aug. 31 – Sept. 11
$900 Student / unemployed rate
$1000 Artist / underemployed rate
$1100 Professional / fully employed rate
Either Half
Aug. 31 – Sept. 5 or Sept. 6 – Sept. 11
$475 Student / unemployed rate
$525 Artist / underemployed rate
$575 Professional / fully employed rate

Reservation deposit. You can reserve a space now with a deposit of $100 for full-time, or $50 for half-time. Full payment is due by June 15 in order to honor the early bird rate. Full payment at the standard rate is due by August 15.

Cancellation policy. Whether you send a full payment or a reservation deposit, $100 of your payment for full-time attendance, or $50 for half-time, is non-refundable. If you cancel before August 15, your registration payment minus that deposit will be refunded. After August 15, about two weeks before the start of the retreat, refunds will no longer be offered.

Visit the registration page to register.

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