Contact Improv and Us

Contact improvisation is a major influence on the work of Human Landscape Dance. We use it throughout our rehearsal process: in the warmup, to create steps, and sometimes in performance. Here's how it goes: our work is about relationships. We make dances that explore ways that people connect, disconnect, make nice, be cruel, make love, or make space for themselves. We occasionally use literal movement to express our themes, a kiss, a push, but, usually, we use the dynamic energy of interaction to create an abstract representation. For this goal, contact improv is the perfect preparation. We use it to tune into each other on a personal, body level. Through contact improv, the performers get to trust each other. We can turn this trust into exciting tension onstage.

Security Chain, Closet Dances, Human Landscape Dance

Contact improv is my hands-on method of creating choreography. In the studio, I am frequently guided by a movement quality or image that I would like to achieve: sliding without friction, oppressive touch, gathering close then scattering far, etc. To create the actual movement, I rely on contact improv. I may step into one dancer's role and see what my body wants to do, improvising with the quality and our bodies. The dancers may collaborate on movement that fits the quality, using their own instincts to develop our performance. I find that this approach to choreography allows for authentic responses and physically adventurous movement.

Keeping Secrets, Closet Dances, Human Landscape Dance

We will bring our compelling dances to Philadelphia's Painted Bride on Saturday May 29, 2009, at 8pm and Sunday May 30 at 3pm. The Philadelphia/Washington DC Exchange is a shared concert with Anne-Marie Mulgrew and Dancers Company. Philadelphia icon Anne-Marie Mulgrew will premiere "Burn" and restage "The Big Dance." We will premiere "January Night" and "Closet Dances."

Human Landscape Dance is a contemporary dance company based in Washington DC. Our work explores original movement in the context of human situations. We show the transformation of relationships over time through the medium of touch. Founded in 2006, Human Landscape Dance has since performed in cities along the east coast of the US and in London UK. We perform in theaters and in public spaces, such as parks, galleries, stairwells, and fountains.

Malcolm Shute
Artistic Director


Blog entry about choreography process:
The Path to Sleep

Blog entries about Philadelphia contact improv workshops:
Contact Class/Jam in Philly
Philly Contact Improvisation

Photo Gallery

January Night--world premiere May 29, 2010
Closet Dances
--Philadelphia premiere May 29, 2010

Blog entries about Philadelphia performances:
Clark Park
Liberty Lands