A contact improvisation summer intensive on Lake Champlain

From Ground to Sky

with Alicia Grayson & Jonathan Lilly

July 19–28, Burlington, Vermont

From Ground to Sky

This ten-day intensive is an exploration of contact improvisation that weaves technique and skills together with creativity and expression. Dancing near the shores of Lake Champlain, our work will be influenced and inspired by the beauty of the natural environment.

Two instructors will teach daily classes exploring parallel themes in contact improvisation. Jonathan's series, “Movement Mechanics and Awareness”, will provide a container for a systematic investigation of essential sensing and movement pathways informed by classical contact improv exercises, somatic practices, and martial arts.

Alicia's series, “A Journey through the Chakras”, will explore the chakras and the associated elements as a base for the positive transformative potential of contact improvisation, incorporating skill-based work with psycho-spiritual and nature-based investigations. Nightly open jam sessions will provide the time and space to further explore, digest, create, and play.

This intensive is intended for people who are wanting a focused investigation into the practice of contact improvisation, and who are committed to developing their physical skills as well as expanding their artistic and human expression. Dancers of all levels are welcome.


Alicia Grayson

Alicia Grayson has been passionately involved with dancing, teaching, and performing contact improvisation for the past 30 years. She teaches CI, yoga, and pilates classes in Boulder, Colorado, and regularly travels nationally and internationally to teach. Her long-time practices of authentic movement, yoga, and pilates, and her love of nature, are important influences on her dancing and teaching. She is certified as a Hakomi therapist, perinatal somatic attachment therapist, and Feminine Power transformational coach and facilitator. She delights in exploring and discovering new depths to CI and related disciplines and is particularly interested in the intersection of physics and expression and the mind/body relationship. She is dedicated to supporting her fellow humans to be the most amazing embodied beings that we can be!

Jonathan Lilly

Jonathan came to contact improvisation in 2013, 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 and Canada. In his day job, he studies ocean physics.


The Dance Floor

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 the nearby North Beach Campground is included in the cost.  The campground is steps away from the warm waters of Lake Champlain, and about a 3 minute drive or 20 minute walk from the dance studio.

You are also welcome to arrange your own accommodations elsewhere.


Friday, July 19 | Arrival Day
7 PM | Opening Circle, 8–11 PM | Jam

July 20 – 22 & 24—27
9:00 – 10:00 AM | Meditation / silent space
10:00 AM – Noon | Class with Jonathan
Noon – 1:00 PM | Lunch
1 – 4 PM | Class with Alicia
8 – 10 PM | Jam

Tuesday, July 23 | Day of Rest
Daytime hike and evening Underscore

Sunday, July 28 | Departure Day
9–11 AM | Jam, 11 AM | Closing circle

Schedule is tentative and subject to change.


Camping. A large group site at North Beach Campground is reserved for participants in this retreat. Everyone is responsible for their camping gear. There are a number of picnic tables and benches for our use at the group site. The campground offers coin-operated showers. Any need camping or outdoors-related supplies can be found at the Outdoor Gear Exchange in downtown Burlington.

Food. Meals are not included in the basic registration cost. A great place to buy food is City Market Coop in downtown Burlington, about a mile from the dance studio. A large refrigerator is available for our use at the dance studio.

Meal plan. An optional lunch and dinner meal plan is available, with locally sourced organic food provided by Blossom. The cost is $225 for 8 lunches and 8 dinners. You can sign up for the meal plan when you register.

Transportation. It is not necessary to have a car with you for the week. Regular carpools will be arranged between the campground and the dance studio, or, you can walk in about 20 minutes. Carpools will be arranged for grocery store runs.

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 about 20 minutes out of town. Let us know when you're arriving ahead of time, and we'll do our best to arrange for someone to pick you up.

Questions? Email the organizer, Jonathan Lilly, at jonathanlilly@gmail.com.


Full Intensive
$600 Student / unemployed rate.
$650 Artist / underemployed rate.
$700 Professional / fully employed rate.
$225 Optional meal plan, 8 lunches & 8 dinners.
First Half
Fri PM July 19 — Mon PM July 22
$275 Student / unemployed rate.
$300 Artist / underemployed rate.
$325 Professional / fully employed rate.
$85 Optional meal plan, 3 lunches & 3 dinners.
Second Half
Wed AM July 24 — Sun AM July 28
$375 Student / unemployed rate.
$400 Artist / underemployed rate.
$425 Professional / fully employed rate.
$115 Optional meal plan, 4 lunches & 4 dinners.

Cancellation Policy: After registration, $100 of your registration payment, or $50 for half-time, becomes a non-refundable deposit. If you cancel before July 5, your registration payment minus that deposit will be refunded. After July 5, two weeks before the start of the retreat, no refunds are possible.

You can register online now at Brown Paper Tickets.

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